Thibaut Pinot will remain at Groupama-FDJ for the next two years after signing a contract extension that will keep him at the French team until the end of the 2020 season. Groupama-FDJ hinted at the news on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, before Pinot confirmed it in a social media post of his own.
"Happy to announce to you that 2019 and 2020 will be my 10th and 11th seasons in the colours of @groupamafdj," Pinot wrote. "Total confidence in my teammates, my team of always and its sponsors, @Groupama and @FDJ."
Pinot has spent his entire career with Marc Madiot's team after turning professional in 2010. His existing contract was due to expire at the end of this season. Earlier in the year, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Bahrain-Merida were interested in acquiring Pinot’s services, though in recent weeks, it became increasingly apparent that his preference was to remain at Groupama-FDJ.
"Extending with Groupama-FDJ was a choice made with my heart and my head," Pinot said in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon. "It's the team that I have grown up in, where I have developed, but, above all, where I learned what the notion of confidence is. I am fortunate to benefit from the unfailing support of the sponsors, of Marc Madiot and of my teammates. To be able to ride my bike in this environment helps me to go beyond myself in competition.
"Bit by bit, the team has been built around me. Today I have teammates of a very high level to support me, and who match with me perfectly on a human level. It's an essential factor. I have blind faith in them. I have the balance I need to blossom. And that's something no other structure could offer me. All of these elements are going to allow me to pass a new sporting milestone, notably in the Grand Tours."
Pinot placed third overall at the 2014 Tour de France but missed this year's race as he had not recovered fully from the pneumonia and exhaustion that forced him out the Giro d'Italia ahead of the final stage. The 28-year-old had ridden strongly across the three weeks and was lying third overall on the final weekend, only to be stricken by illness on the last mountain stage to Cervinia.
He is now set to ride the Vuelta a España, which gets underway in Malaga on Saturday, and is also in line to be among the leaders of the French team at next month’s World Championships road race in Innsbruck.
Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot welcomed Pinot's decision to agree terms with the team. Pinot's brother Julien is a longstanding part of the coaching staff at the team.
"When Thibaut told us he wanted to prolong the adventure with us, we both knew that it was the best choice he could make," Madiot said. "Of course he was courted by other teams, but his extension is proof that he feels well with us and note the reciprocal confidence we have in him. He embodies the image of an attacking and winning team, with high ambitions."