Place 10 - Romain Hardy
Type of Rider: Climber, One-Day races
Biggest Success: 3rd Polynormande (1.1)
Team/Club 2010: Bretagne – Schuller
Team 2011: Bretagne – Schuller
Best Mock List Ranking: new
Romain Hardy has one problem: he hardly wins races. In mass sprints he isn´t fast enough, in mountaintop finishes he can´t stay with the best, for stage-race wins his time trialling abilities aren´t good enough. That´s why Romain Hardy often finishes on or near the podium, but rarely on the top step. But aren´t third and fourth places in tough 1.1 races, which Hardy collected serially this season, worth more than stage wins in 2.2 stages races with a poor starting field?
He was hardly visible in his Junior years, and only in his first Under 23 year in 2008 Hardy, who hails from Normandy, could get some results. He then raced for Amateur team Cotes d´Armor Cyclisme, that also yielded Cyril Gautier. He could only take part in stage races if he took a vacation, because he held a part time job at the SNCF, the French railroads. But when he could take the start, he showed brilliant results: at the Tour de Gironde (2.2) he only narrowly missed his first UCI win and finished second in a stage and in the overall classification. Also a short while later at the Kreizh Breizh (2.2) in Brittany: again second on a stage and 6th overall.
In 2009 he had his first races with the national team at the Nations Cup. Hardy was best on hilly terrain, like as 6th of the GP Portugal (2.NCup) and 4th of the Under 23 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege (1.NCup), where he could keep with the leading group around Rasmus Guldhammer until the Cote d´Ans. His good form brought wins at last: at the Tour de la Creuse, a small French stage race, Hardy won a stage. He also won the small race Manche Océan. A win at the prestigious Nation Cup race in Canadian Saguenay was close, but in the 3rd stage Hardy missed catching winner Sergio Henao by 10 meters. A solid 9th place overall showed Hardy´s consistent performance. So the young Frenchman was nominated for the World Championships in Mendrisio, only to be thrown off the team to make Alexandre Geniez´s participation possible. Frustration and disappointment were vast, but at least French continental team Bretagne – Schuller offered him a contract for 2010. Hardy now wanted to concentrate on bike racing and he took a temporary leave of absence from his job at the SNCF.
After some rather curious cyclo-cross appearances (for his first race he had to lend a bike from a team-mate because he didn´t yet have an own bike) the Frenchman started the 2010 season with big ambitions: to reach results on Pro-level and take part in races with the French national Under 23 team. A small injury in the begin of the season only serves to fire up Hardy even more, and at the Circuit de la Sarthe (2.1) he sprints to a 4th place stage finish. On totally different terrain, the Tour de Finistère (1.1) goes up and down all day in the hills of Brittany. In a small leading group, which includes team-mate Florian Vachon, Hardy fights for victory. On the finishing straight Hardy serves as a lead-out man for Vachon, who promptly wins the race. Hardy finishes 4th. Also at the Tour de Bretagne (2.2) and at the Tour Rhone-Alpes-Isère (2.2) he only narrowly misses stage wins.
In his own opinion, he just misses a little courage to attack as a soloist in the final kilometers of a race. This isn´t necessary at the Boucles de l´Aulne (1.1), where Hardy finishes on the lowest podium step behind two team-mates. The trend continues at the Circuito Montanes (2.2), the Pruba Villafranca de Ordizia (1.1) and the Tour de l´Ain (2.1). Always he fails just short of victory. He has reached 18 Top Ten places this season, but hasn´t once won. At the Polynormande (1.1) in August it was his closest miss, but it was Andy Cappelle and not Hardy who made the decisive attack, Hardy had to be content with 3rd place again.
Romain Hardy could win each medium-tough race you could think of – he just has to begin winning sometime soon. At least Bretagne – Schuller believes in Hardy and prolonged his contract until 2012. For next year the team plans to move to Pro-Continental level. Romain Hardy can continue to race for places – his next chance is the Tour de l´Avenir. And in the worst case scenario the proverbial train hasn´t yet left the station for Hardy.
nominated by wagenge, virtualprofit, ogkempf, chreezer & gardener, written by gardener, translated by bugno