Pinot: coronavirus situation has been blown out of proportion

Tour Cycliste International du Var et des Alpes Maritimes 2020 - 52nd Edition - 3rd stage La Londe - Le Mont Faron 136 km - 23/02/2020 - Thibaut Pinot (FRA - Groupama - FDJ) - photo Regis Garnier/BettiniPhoto©2020
Thibaut Pinot at the Tour du Var (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) has suggested the threat of the Covid-19 coronavirus has been blown out of proportion, arguing there's a disconnect between the media coverage and the reality of the situation. 

Pinot was speaking to the media on Saturday on the eve of Paris-Nice, with the interview conducted via video link as part of a series of measures to prevent the spread of the virus at the French race. 

Several races in Italy, including Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Milan-San Remo, have been postponed due to the new coronavirus. With France seeing far fewer cases than Italy, Paris-Nice, which starts on Sunday, is going ahead, but several WorldTour teams have taken it upon themselves to withdraw

"I didn't hesitate to come here," Pinot, whose teammates at the UAE Tour remain quarantined in their hotel in Abu Dhabi, said on Saturday.

"I feel a bit of a disconnect with regards to what's happening on TV. It's true that it's being spoken about a lot but I don't feel any sense of panic around me.

"What happening between TV and the reality on the ground is a bit disproportionate. We'll see tomorrow about the measures taken by ASO. In any case, I never had any fear of coming here due to the virus."

Pinot heads to Paris-Nice on the back of a solid if subdued start to the 2020 campaign, which marked his comeback from his painful late exit from the 2019 Tour de France. He placed 7th at the Tour de la Provence before finishing 6th at the Tour du Var. At both races, he was roundly beaten by a Nairo Quintana, who seems reborn in the colours of Arkéa-Samsic.

"From what I've seen in February, Quintana seems to me to be very much above the rest," Pinot noted. "If he gets through the opening stages without issue, he's the big favourite...by a long way."

As for his own chances, Pinot knows his debut at the so-called 'Race to the Sun' must produce an upturn in form compared to his previous two outings this season. After early opportunities for the sprinters and Classics riders, the first test for the general classification contenders comes on stage 4 with a 15km time trial, and the race will be decided on Saturday with the summit finish at La Colmiane.

"I don't quite know where I'm up to. I'm not going to hide it - I'm not in the condition I thought I'd be. At tee Var, I wasn't great on Mont Faron. I was disappointed with that," Pinot said.

"It's going to be a tough Paris-Nice. It's a good thing for July. I have to get back that race rhythm I'm lacking. On paper, I'm one of the favourites, but we'll se on Sunday in Nice. The objective is to leave Nice with a smile on my face. I must, above all, reassure myself on the final weekend."

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Cyclingnews is the world's leader in English-language coverage of professional cycling. Started in 1995 by University of Newcastle professor Bill Mitchell, the site was one of the first to provide breaking news and results over the internet in English. The site was purchased by Knapp Communications in 1999, and owner Gerard Knapp built it into the definitive voice of pro cycling. Since then, major publishing house Future PLC has owned the site and expanded it to include top features, news, results, photos and tech reporting. The site continues to be the most comprehensive and authoritative English voice in professional cycling.