After his outstanding performance at the Critérium du Dauphiné last week, notably his breakaway and his second place on the final stage, Thibaut Pinot, aged 21, is going to miss his first participation to the Tour de France. “It will be hard to stay home and watch my friends on TV”, the FDJ rider confided to Cyclingnews the day after the race, obviously exhausted. “My heart says I should race the Tour, but reason has to win the day.”
Although Pinot is still on the short list of FDJ riders for the Tour, Cyclingnews understands Marc Madiot is not very keen on enrolling his young rider this year. The team manager previously planned putting him to the Vuelta, in order to give him a first Grand Tour experience, but the French squad hasn’t been invited.
Pinot’s coach, Jacques Decrion, explained that riding the Tour this year would be “risky”, not only from a physical but also emotional point of view. “Thibaut is on the go for one month, with a sequence Presidential Tour of Turkey (3rd overall), Rhône-Alpes Isère Tour (2nd) and Bayern-Rundfahrt (7th), so he needs recovery,” Decrion said. “And his [54 kilometers long] breakaway on Dauphiné’s last stage was nervously very exhausting.”
According to this schedule, Pinot might have a eight or ten-day break break after the national championships and then a training camp in the mountains to prepare for his next goals: the Tour de l’Ain, the GP of Quebec and the GP of Montreal.
As well as carefully managing his race program, the FDJ climber is worried to avoid media pressure. That’s why he declined every interview’s requests before the Dauphiné and preferred speaking via his Twitter account during the race.
“I try not to read the features about myself”, he said, knowing that the media in his country often rate new talents and inevitably expect one who can succeed Bernard Hinault, the last French Tour French winner in 1985. “Certainly we need French contenders in the Tour”, Pinot says. “But it’s over the top to predict my future, and I’m not the only young French who has got good performances in stages races: look at Alexandre Geniez! [Skill-Shimano’s climber-puncheur, 23 years old, was 2nd in last year’s Route du Sud and this year’s Tour of Luxembourg, Ed.]”
At the Dauphiné, Pinot showed his ability to control another form of pressure: his own. Promoted to leader of the team, surrounded by /domestiques de luxe/ like Sandy Casar, he didn’t collapse in either his head or his legs. He explained that he lost almost 6 minutes in an echelon on stage 2 to Lyon, because of bad luck: “OK, I was badly positioned but I missed the first break for two men before me, just to men…” Pinot also struggled on stage 6 to Le Collet d’Allevard because of a hypoglycaemia.
Apart from that, he performed well at all the uphill finishes, having gone 7th on stages 1 and 5 – “but as a follower”, he blamed himself – and 2nd in the final day to La Toussuire, outsprinting Gesink, Van Den Broeck and Vinokourov after an early attempt at a solo escape. “I really had fun,” Pinot summarized.