Frenchman set for Magny-Cours lessons in October
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) will take lessons behind the wheel of a racing car in October in a bid to overcome the fear of speed that so hindered his descending during this year’s Tour de France.
The Frenchman lost all hopes of a high overall finish at the Tour when he was dropped on the descent of the Porte de Pailhères on the first day in the Pyrenees and he admitted afterwards that he had developed something of a psychological block when it came to going downhill.
Former rally and ice racing driver Max Mamers volunteered his services to FDJ manager Marc Madiot to help Pinot overcome the obstacle and he has arranged for Pinot to be tutored on the Magny-Cours circuit – former home of the French Grand Prix – in late October.
“I’ve followed this boy’s results since he was best climber at Paris-Corrèze at twenty years of age,” Mamers told L’Équipe. “When I saw him petrified on the descent, I said to myself that I could do something for him. That very evening, I sent a text message to Marc.”
Madiot maintains that Pinot’s problem is a fear of speed rather than any specific problem with his descending technique, and Mamers believes that driving an electric car at 190kph can help the rider assuage his doubts.
“Above all, we need to work on his viewpoint, on getting him used to seeing obstacles that arrive quickly,” Mamers said. “At first, he will have an instructor with him and then he will drive alone. With the run-offs at the Magny-Cours, he’s not risking anything.”
Madiot, who suffered from a similar problem to Pinot in the early part of his career, said that he had also considered sending the 23-year-old to the ski slopes during the off-season as a means of improving his descending, but decided that putting him behind the wheel of a car was a safer option.
“The objective is to familiarise Thibaut with high speeds,” Madiot said. “Skiing is also useful for learning how to adjust your trajectory but I’m not in favour of riders doing that.”
Pinot currently lies in 29th place overall at the Vuelta a España, where he is racing with the aim of winning a stage in the final week and preparing for the world championships in Florence.