However, just five stages in, those hopes seem like a distant memory. The Frenchman did well on the opening time trial but lost time over each of the following three stages; he was caught on the wrong side of the split on stage 2 and fell behind before the Mur de Huy on stage 3. His podium aspirations were terminally dented by two late mechanicals on the cobbled stage 4.
Madiot also hinted that Pinot's decline may have something to do with the horrific crash that occurred during stage 3, in which Pinot was not involved but his teammate William Bonnet had to be taken away in an ambulance with neck injuries.
"Seeing his crash has completely broken Thibaut Pinot's legs off. He's had bad luck himself but the Tour is not over for him. When I look at past result sheets in Paris, someone who is six or seven minutes adrift is quite high on GC," Madiot argued.
"We had to put him back in the game after the hectic start. He still has plenty of opportunities to do well in the mountains so we'll wait and see before changing his goal. He remains at the Tour for GC."
Cyclingnews Tour de France podcast episode 6
After an opening three Classics-flavoured road stages, stage 5 of the Tour de France presented us with a bunch sprint. It was far from straightforward, though, with wind, rain and crashes.
Today's stage is also one for the fastmen but the route tracks the coastline along the Channel and there's a nasty uphill drag to the line, which may see the pure sprinters taken out of contention.
In the sixth installment of the Cyclingnews podcast, our reporters in France, Sadhbh O'Shea and Barry Ryan, are joined by Procycling editor Ed Pickering to discuss all the action.
You can listen to them dissect the events of stage 5 before taking a detailed look at what's in store today.
Lotto-Soudal enjoying first week of the Tour
Lotto-Soudal have had a hugely successful start to the Tour de France, with André Greipel holding a substantial lead in the green jersey competition and taking two stage wins. The victories come despite serious injuries to key riders Adam Hansen and Greg Henderson, who are both nursing broken bones.
"We're all happy, of course there are some people who have pain in their bones and it's not so funny for them but when you have so much success then you want to stay in the race," Lars Bak explained. "When you see these guys suffering we also suffer more because we cannot complain when we have three teammates with broken bones. To keep the team spirit and the morale up is really important that all are dedicated and really going for it and all nine here are doing a perfect job."
The green jersey is far from wrapped up, with Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) just 32 points behind Greipel in the competition. Today's finish in Le Havre is not well suited to Greipel, with the team potentially looking to Tony Gallopin rather than the German and he could see his lead cut down. However, it will be back to the flat for Friday's stage 7 where the team are confident.
"Tomorrow is a pure bunch sprint. You never know there could be some wind again but, until now, we've shown that we can be good in the wind. We have to keep on the same track that we did the other days and then I think that we can win again."
Cofidis to push on in Bouhanni's absence
Having lost Nacer Bouhanni for the remainder of the Tour de France due to an early crash on stage 5, Geoffrey Soupe stepped up the plate to finish 11th in the bunch sprint for Cofidis. The wildcard entry team also saw Kenneth Van Bilsen, Dani Navarro, Luis Mate et Florian Sénéchal crash during the stage with Van Bilsen and Navarro both suffering contusions.
Cofidis’ team for the Tour had been built entirely around delivering Bouhanni to sprint stage success. The Frenchman won three stages and the points classification at the 2014 Giro d’Italia and put the disappointment of missing the Tour behind him with two stage wins at the Vuelta a Espana.
From six Grand Tour starts, the 2014 Giro is the only Grand Tour that Bouhanni has finished. He made his Tour debut in 2013 but was forced to withdraw from the race with illness on stage 6. Cofidis announced Bouhanni will have one week of rest before deciding on his goals for the remainder of the season.
Bramati banned for a day
Etixx-QuickStep directeur sportif Davide Bramati has been banned from driving a team car in the Tour de France for a day as punishment for not wearing a seatbelt.
The Belgian team posted a video of Tony Martin’s stage four video that included in-car footage showing Bramati celebrating but without a seatbelt. It seems French police saw the video and contacted the Tour de France organisers.
Etixx-QuickStep risked having just one team car for stage six to Le Havre but an appeal saw the car allowed in the race but Bramati was punished with a day out of the race and 200 Swiss franc fine. The video has been removed from the internet.
Bramati offered an apology for driving without the seatbelt in a post-stage tweet, writing "In the heat of the moment I made a mistake. I didn't fasten the seat belt. Lesson learned. It won't happen again. #safetybeforeeverything".