The current leader of the King of the Mountains classification of this year's Tour de France may not be a true climber, but he is determined to defend his jersey for as long as he possibly can. As the Tour hits the Alps, Jérôme Pineau from Quick Step knows he won't be able to take the lead to Paris, but he has a plan to at least keep his polka dot jersey over the first two mountain stages.
"Tomorrow is a more difficult stage when I will have to race out front in order to get more points for the polka dot jersey," Pineau told Cyclingnews in Montargis on Friday moring. "The are are more than 40 points at stake, so it is a stage that is going to be important."
Stage seven to Les Rousses is a medium-mountain stage with an uphill finish. Pineau's thinking is that if he can take all the points there, it won't matter if others may be stronger than him on Sunday when the Tour peloton takes on the real thing in Morzine-Avoriaz.
"If I can score all of the points tomorrow then I have a chance of defending the lead in Morzine - I know I'll have to drop back on the last climb. But I feel good. I have good legs so I don't want to set myself any limits. Except for the Champs-Elysées: I'm pretty sure I'm not going to keep it until Paris!" he said, laughing.
But Quick Step has alternative plans if Pineau doesn't make the escape group on Saturday. "I would like to keep the jersey but I also have a teammate - and good friend - who is in excellent form. Together with him, we could also choose to share the jersey," Pineau hinted. There is no doubt that the teammate he means is Sylvain Chavanel, who helped him take the KOM lead in the first place when the two were off the front in stage 2 to Spa.
"It would be a pity letting the jersey go without putting up a proper fight. That's not the way I am. I have an attacking personality, so as long as my legs respond to what I want to do, I'll go for it," Pineau said as a warning to those who might be after the jersey.