Pinot feeling fresh for Vuelta a Espana challenge

Groupama-FDJ leader Thibaut Pinot will head to the Vuelta a España having fully recovered from the pneumonia he suffered at May's Giro d'Italia, which forced him to abandon the race after stage 20, and then miss the Tour de France.

The Frenchman recently returned to racing at the Tour de Pologne – where he finished third overall, and second to Simon Yates on the final stage – and will ride the Vuelta having rediscovered his climbing legs in Poland.

"The Vuelta's quite different to the Giro or the Tour, but it's still a Grand Tour. There's just less stress," Pinot said on the Groupama-FDJ website.

"Starting in southern Spain, I'm ready for it to be very hot, but that's something I've been working on."

Since the Tour de Pologne, Pinot has been training at altitude, basing himself at the ski resort of Tignes, and using late summer in the French Alps to prepare for the Vuelta.

"I was happy to do the Tour de Pologne, which is the ideal preparation race for the Vuelta," Pinot said. "I've got an opportunity to do the Vuelta with the kind of shape I wouldn't normally have at this time of year, and I'm going to use the race to get back into form for the rest of the season. I don't want to finish burned out in Madrid."

While Pinot will go to the Vuelta in much fresher form than many of his rivals, thanks to his forced rest period during June and July, and says that he's prepared for the heat in the south of Spain, the 28-year-old was perhaps also alluding to the fact that he was more than a little 'burned out' when he had to leave the Vuelta the last time he rode it, in 2014.

"I've got good and bad memories of the Vuelta," Pinot told Cyclingnews in Poland. "In 2013, I got seventh overall, but then in 2014, I had to abandon because I got heatstroke."

If the Frenchman comes out of the Vuelta strongly, and has perhaps been challenging for a podium spot or a top-five finish, he may also be considered a good bet for a strong showing at the tough Worlds circuit in Innsbruck, Austria, where the road race takes place on September 30.

"I'll be taking things day-by-day at the Vuelta," Pinot said, "and also racing with one eye on building my form for the world championships and for the Italian end-of-season Classics like Milano-Torino and Il Lombardia, which I like a lot."

If you've ever wanted to know what it feels like to be part of a top-level cycling team, and to be on the ground, inside the barriers, at the Tour de France, then RUNNING WITH WOLVES will take you there. It is available to rent for $3.99 USD or buy for $6.99 USD (opens in new tab).

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