Romain Bardet Takes the Proust Questionnaire
From Issue 80 • Introduction by James Startt, Illustration by Matthew Burton.
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An MBA graduate, French cyclist Romain Bardet is an avid reader and has a passion for political science and current events. At first take, he is well composed and thoughtful. And then he gets on his bike. Suddenly, the AG2R La Mondiale team leader becomes one of the most spontaneous and aggressive riders in the peloton. He’s among the world’s best climbers and a fearless descender—two qualities that have helped to place him on the podium of the Tour de France in two of the past three years, while winning three mountain stages. Bardet has also shown his aptitude for the classics over the past 12 months, taking fourth at the 2017 Tour of Lombardy, second at Strade Bianche and third at Liège–Bastogne–Liège. At age 27, he can look forward to many years of competing at the highest level. Bardet is accomplished in many spheres…and is a perfect candidate for the Proust questionnaire.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? To be at one with yourself.
What is your greatest fear? Not making the most of it.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Hypocrisy.
Which living person do you most admire? My grandmother.
What is your greatest extravagance? Opening a bottle of wine with my friends early in the day.
What is your current state of mind? Enjoying every second of this journey called life.
On what occasion do you lie? I don’t lie, I just keep quiet.
What do you most dislike about your appearance? My tiny arms.
Which living person do you most despise? I don’t hate people; I just get indifferent.
What is the quality you most like in a man? Bravery.
What is the quality you most like in a woman? Independence.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Be brave. Be free. Stay wild.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? It may not be the most original answer, but my wife.
When and where were you happiest? In totally unexpected moments in great company.
Which talent would you most like to have? To be able to scratch like a DJ and write like an author.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? The best is yet to come.
Where would you most like to live? In the mountains.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The immigration problems of the 21st century.
What is your favorite occupation? Reading and listening to the news in the early morning while drinking espresso.
What is your most marked characteristic? I am obstinate.
Who are your favorite writers? Édouard Louis [the young French novelist], Clément Rosset [the late French philosopher], Samuel Huntington [the late American political scientist].
Who are your heroes in real life? Every single woman and man who fights for their dreams.
How would you like to die? I have no idea. I don’t care about the duration of life, only its intensity.
What is your motto? You always have to realize that you are constantly in a state of becoming something, so take the risk or lose the chance.