After taking third place at the Tour de France and claiming the white jersey of best young rider, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) now turns his sights to the Vuelta a España, where he finished 7th overall last season.
Alongside Jean-Christophe Péraud, Pinot was one of France's first podium finishers at the Tour since 1997, and was a man in demand at the round of post-Tour criteriums. Ultimately, however, Pinot opted to take a holiday in Saint-Tropez immediately after the Tour and limited his schedule to just three criteriums this week, all on home roads – at Lacq, Castillon-La-Bataille and Marcolès.
"It's started again, the aperitifs and barbecues are over," Pinot told L'Équipe. "The Vuelta and maybe the Worlds are on the horizon. I've got a few days to lose the two kilos I put on during my time off. The three criteriums this week should help me with that."
Pinot was originally slated to ride the Tour de l'Ain (August 12-16), the mountainous stage race where he has won three stages in the past, but according to the Voix de l'Ain, he will miss the race and the FDJ.fr team will instead be led by Kenny Elissonde.
Pinot's return to competitive action is thus set to come at the Vuelta, which gets under way in Jerez on August 23. The strong field will include Chris Froome (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Speaking at the end of the Tour, Pinot envisaged chasing stage victories rather than a high overall finish in Spain.
Pinot will be joined at the Vuelta by Alexandre Geniez, who won the stage to Peyragudes last year and finished 13th at the Giro d'Italia in May. Despite missing out on selection for this year's Tour, Geniez has confirmed that he will remaining with FDJ.fr for the next two seasons after agreeing a new contract with the team.
"We've been talking since the Giro and even though I didn't go to the Tour de France, I couldn't reproach them for it," Geniez told Centre Presse Aveyron. “"Loyalty is important. The management has confidence in me and it’s reciprocated."
Geniez was linked with a switch to Sky during the summer, and while he refused to confirm the name, he admitted that he had been approached "by a big foreign team." The climber added that he was happy to play a supporting role for Pinot whenever required. "When Thibaut is there, I'll ride for him, and when he's not, I'll be able to play my own hand," he said. "I don't dream of being a leader all year long."
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