Pinot welcomes 65km mountain stage at 2018 Tour de France

'It's a very beautiful route, well designed,' says Frenchman

The television cameras may have been focused on Romain Bardet's reaction to the route of the 2018 Tour de France at the Palais des Congrès, but his fellow countryman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) was equally enthusiastic about the design of next year's race.

A better time triallist than Bardet, Pinot will be less preoccupied by the penultimate day time trial in the Basque Country and he was bullish about his prospects of emerging unscathed from the daunting opening week in northern France.

The quantity and variety of mountain stages in weeks two and three, meanwhile, seem likely to ensure Pinot builds his season around the Tour in 2018, after targeting the Giro d'Italia – where he placed fourth overall – this year.

Pinot has endured a complicated relationship with the Tour during his career. He was best young rider on his Tour debut in 2012 and placed third overall in 2014, but he has abandoned the race on three of his six appearances.

"I like this Tour, it's a Tour that's good for me," Pinot said on Tuesday. "I hope I can finally show my real potential in the Tour.

"It's a very beautiful route, well designed. The opening days will be complicated, with finishes for puncheurs and a stage on the pavé. It won't be boring."

Two years ago, Pinot's overall challenge evaporated long before the mountains after a calamitous opening to the Tour, but he performed relatively strongly when he placed 24th on the rain-soaked stage across the pavé in 2014.

"I think the cobbles are going to be a worry for anybody who is aiming for the general classification. Any stage on the cobbles can cause time gaps. If the weather is like it was two years ago, it might pass off ok, but if the weather is wet, it could be a legendary stage," he said.

"In 2014 in the rain, I was in the group that was fighting it out for, I think, fifth place, so that wasn't bad at all. In 2015, it went badly because I had a mechanical problem, but that could happen to anybody. It's a stage that could be dangerous but that's true of all the stages really."

Pinot does not believe, on the other hand, that the gravel section over the top of the Montée du Plateau des Glières on stage 10 will prove an undue impediment for the GC men. "I know that track and I don't think it will be too complicated, aside from the possibility of punctures. A track of two kilometres shouldn't have a big effect on the favourites," he said.

The Frenchman was enthusiastic about the novel, short mountain leg on stage 17, which brings the peloton over no fewer than three mountain passes in the space of just 65 kilometres, the Col de Peyresourde, Col de Val Louron-Azet and Col de Portet.

"I think it's a good thing. You often have big mountain stages where not a lot happens, but this is short and very hard. For us riders, and especially the climbers, we're quite happy to have a stage like this, and it should be a spectacle for the fans too," he said.

Pinot laughed, meanwhile, as he was asked when he planned on beginning to reconnoitre the parcours of the 2018 Tour. After a long campaign that ended only at Il Lombardia earlier this month, Pinot is not yet giving his undivided attention to next season.

"No, no, it's time for holidays. The recons will take place during the early part of the season – if they happen," he said. "In 2014, I did no reconnaissance and I finished third, and I didn't recon the Giro route this year either. With technology, there are now lots of ways of getting information on stages, so recons aren't essential anymore."

To hear more from Froome, Yates, Bardet and our analysis of the Tour de France route, listen to the podcast, and click here to subscribe.

Related Articles

Back to top