Jérôme Pineau (Quick Step) has accused the UCI WorldTour points system of “killing panache” in the wake of the Ardennes Classics. The Frenchman was on the offensive at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but said that many riders were afraid to do the same lest they risk missing out on adding to their points tallies.
Pineau maintained that Philippe Gilbert’s supremacy at Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallone meant that the rest of the peloton should have been looking to be more inventive at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
“When you’ve been dominated in the first two races, you try in the third one!” Pineau told Ouest France. “What ruins everything is the UCI points system. Teams think about getting sixth and ninth place instead of trying to win and finishing 10th. They say that earpieces are killing panache, but these points do the same thing. People play it defensively.
“I don’t train all year round to defend, follow and pick up nine or ten points here and there. That kind of cycling doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not referring to any team or rider in particular, it’s a collective behaviour.”
Pineau’s best result at Liège-Bastogne-Liège was 10th in 2007, but he explained that he has had better form in the Ardennes on other occasions, including this season. The Frenchman was caught at the foot of the Mur de Huy at Flèche Wallonne before finishing 51st, while he had a rally off the front at Liège en route to 20th place.
“I was largely at the level of the top ten,” he said. “I tried something else at least, I didn’t finish frustrated. In ten years, I had obtained some good results, but by following.”
Using the Giro to build for July
Pineau now turns his attentions to the Grand Tours, and as was the case in 2010, he will tackle the Giro d’Italia with a stage victory in mind, before building up to the Tour de France.
At last season’s Giro, Pineau grabbed a fine win in Novi Ligure, and he again sees several stages suited to his talents this time around.
“I’m going there with the same ambition: to attack and get into the maximum amount of breaks to try and get into the one that will go all the way,” he said. “I think there are six to eight stages that suit me, medium mountain stages with a four or five kilometre hill in the final 20km.”
Pineau has no general classification aspirations in Italy, however, and will instead be hoping to refine his form ahead of the Tour. In July, his main objective will be the king of the mountains title.
“I’m not going to Italy aiming at the overall,” Pineau explained. “I will, however, work on my pedalling [in the mountains], because the aim of the polka dot jersey of the Tour is still in my head.”
In spite of the difficulty of the Giro’s route, Pineau is convinced that it will offer him the best possible preparation for the Tour.
“It’s possible to do two Grand Tours, especially when there’s a gap of a month between them,” he said. “Me, I needtwo weeks to get back to a state where my freshness is almost intact, so that doesn’t worry me. I did it last year, and I had never felt so good.”