Pinot faces Dauphiné test
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) heads into the Critérium du Dauphiné's tough final three days of racing with ground to recoup in the general classification, though the Frenchman has affected calm about how he performs, noting that his big objectives of the summer are the Tour de France and the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Pinot currently lies 12th place overall, 52 seconds off the lead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), after an unspectacular showing on the stiff opening day time trial at Les Gets.
“It’s going to be hard to finish in the top five,” Pinot admitted to L’Équipe. “My place in the prologue lifted a bit of pressure off me. In the end, it was a blessing in disguise, because I can progress a bit more calmly. It’s good to ride in a relaxed way given that there are two heavy months ahead of me.”
Friday’s tough stage to Vaujany will set the tone for the remainder of Pinot’s Dauphiné, and help him decide whether to chase a high overall finish or a stage victory this weekend. “It’s going to be a test,” he said. “If I’m on form, I should be in contact with the best. If I’m on the limit, we’ll change tactics like we did at the Tour de France last year [where Pinot won at Alpe d’Huez on the final weekend – ed.]”
Geniez to leave FDJ
Alexandre Geniez has announced that he will leave FDJ at the end of this season after four years with the team. The Frenchman claimed a stage win at the 2013 Vuelta a España and placed 9th overall at the 2015 Giro d’Italia after joining from Argos-Shimano at the end of 2012.
“I’m turning the page on FDJ at the end of the year. I’m leaving the team,” Geniez told Centre Press Aveyron. “I’ve taken my decision, even though it’s not been easy because I felt good on this team.”
Geniez, who was forced out of this year’s Giro by an early crash and will miss the Tour de France after it emerged that he had fractured his scaphoid, said that he was leaving in order to find new objectives. He was signed by FDJ to support his contemporary Thibaut Pinot in the mountains, though the Swiss pair of Steve Morabito and Sebastien Reichenbach have fulfilled those duties this season.
“At 28 years of age, I’m coming into my best years, so a new challenge is enticing,” Geniez said. “They [FDJ] have always said that they wanted to keep me but this departure is a sporting and personal choice.”
Geniez was coy about his destination for 2017. “I’ve had contact with various teams,” he said. “Let’s just say both French and foreign teams. I’ll take my decision, which is obviously a big one, during the summer.”
Geniez is set to return to action at the Tour de Pologne and is likely to ride the Tour de l’Ain ahead of the Vuelta a España.
Nizzolo targets Italian championships
After landing the GP Gippingen on Thursday, Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) has revisited his disappointment at being stripped of victory on the final stage of the Giro d’Italia, and highlighted the Italian national championships road race as his next objective.
Nizzolo thought he had won his first ever Giro stage when he was first across the line in Turin on the final day, only for the commissaires to declassify him for deviating from his line in the sprint. The Italian had to settle for a second successive points classification win by way of compensation, but his disappointment was palpable.
“I expressed my opinion at the time in a diplomatic but clear way,” Nizzolo told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I wasn’t in the wrong, in my opinion. But the matter is behind me – with this win I’ve shown that I didn’t let myself lose heart.”
Nizzolo will not compete at the Tour de Suisse or the Tour de France, but he has one further race on his schedule before taking a short mid-season break from action. “The Italian championships are in Darfo Boario Terme on June 26,” he said.
“I’ve gone to see the course and for me, it’s doable. There’s a demanding climb, but you’re only talking about 500 metres that are really hard, and it finishes 3 kilometres from the line. It’s a race that’s open to 50 riders or so. It’s the last effort of this first part of the season and I want to have a go.”
Girdlestone presented with winner's medal from Coppa della Pace
Keagan Girdlestone remains in hospital in Rimini after his serious crash at the Coppa della Pace on Sunday, but the South African rider is in no longer in immediate danger.
“Today we are happy to report that Keagan is more aware of his surroundings and knows that those who love him are around him,” read a post on Girdlestone’s Facebook page. “The immediate danger has passed and now he begins what will be a long road to recovery.”
On Thursday, the organisers of the Coppa della Pace visited Girdlestone in hospital and presented him with the winner’s medal for the race, while Edvald Boasson Hagen dedicated his win at the Critérium du Dauphiné to Girdlestone, who races for the Dimension Data development team.
“The race organisers of the Coppa Della Pace came to see Keagan today to present him with the first place medal for the race. This was a kind and touching gesture that the family has really appreciated,” read a post of Girdlestone’s Facebook page.