While on a team training camp, the AG2R La Mondiale pro talked at length to the reporters about ways to make cycling more exciting. The key thing was his change of opinion on banning earpieces.

“The true concern, in the minds of certain people, is the predictability of the race. That’s the greatest thing at stake. That notion that Sky could almost win the Tour with any of their riders – that’s what race organisers want to tackle, to try to create more unpredictable scenarios.”

The race director Christian Prudhomme already succeeded in calling for a reduction in team sizes. Now he proposes to ban power-meters. As a matter of fact, the last Tour winner, Geraint Thomas, said that he was fine with that. So, earpieces are coming up next, but let’s not pretend that it could potentially harm Team Sky’s dominance.

“I think a world without earpieces would be a very good thing,” Bardet said. “It would make the riders take a bit more responsibility. It would heighten their tactical sense and awareness. You’d have to be more alert to the race. I think it would elevate the rider as an athlete, not having that information.

Romain Bardet on his way to practice cross-country skiing in Vaujany in the French Alps on November 28, 2018, as part of the team’s preparation for the next cycling season. © Profimedia, AFP

“For me personally, I find the earpieces make you that bit more passive, waiting for information before you make a move. Without them you’re looking at who is where, you can’t let dangerous riders out of your sight, and it makes the race a more intense experience, from within. It gives more uncertainty.”

Bardet finished second in the 2016 Tour de France and third in 2017. This year, he finished sixth. While he brings up earpieces to spark an initial debate, his opinion on making the teams smaller seems to be already set in stone.

“If you go from eight to six, the tempos are not the same over 180 km if there are six of you, compared to eight. Let’s reduce it again. It would quickly put teams in trouble. Maybe it’s a bit extreme for the Tour de France, a couple of crashes and you could be down to four, but that’s sport, it can be cruel.”

Do you agree with Bardet?

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