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Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
FDJ rider hoping to get over his fear of speed
“I want to play a free role at the Tour. I know I am tense on the bike, this is my weak point," he told the French newspaper Dauphiné.
Pinot's fear of speed, which stems from a serious crash he had as a junior, came to a head in the Pyrenees and he even went as far as questioning his desire to stay in the race. The French rider went into the this year's Tour with high hopes, after he finished 10th the year before. His ambitions fell by the wayside when he struggled to stay with the rest of the peloton on the opening mountain stages.
The 23-year-old crossed the line in tears at the end of stage nine after losing more than 20 minutes on the road to Bagnères-de-Bigorre. Each stage compounded his anguish and by the time he left on Stage 16, he was over an hour down on the race leader Chris Froome. Since then FDJ general manager Marc Madiot has been trying to help his rider overcome his fears. One method was to put him into an car rally driving course on ice.
"This course helps me because you must be self-assured. Released,” he told Dauphiné. “Hopefully there will be a release even though I do not expect to be with the best. I just want to get off the bike and not have the apprehension on each mountain summit. The car allows me to learn and move forward and that's good."
Pinot will ride both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España in 2014, as he did this year.