Thibaut Pinot finished third in the mountainous stage 5 of the Dauphiné after being the king of the mountains at the Tour de Romandie. Less than two weeks after turning 20, the Française des Jeux rider is being hailed as France's next climbing sensation.
Pinot made the early breakaway that went on the col du Lautaret soon after the start in Serre-Chevalier. He was still bitter that he hadn't been able to follow his plan the day before as he had a flat tyre four kilometres prior to the bottom of ascent to Risoul, where he was hoping to display his climbing abilities.
Together with Eros Capecchi, he limited the gap to Astana's Daniel Navarro who had overtaken them in the climb to Chamrousse. "To come back across to him, we would have needed five more kilometres but he deserves his win," Pinot said after losing the sprint for second to Capecchi. "This is my first podium in a pro race, I can't complain."
His team manager Marc Madiot didn't complain either. "I've seen a young rider who pedals well and I hope he'll continue to improve," the boss of Française des Jeux told Cyclingnews. "He's a pure climber. He confirms what we knew of him from the junior categories." Pinot was guided by FDJ's assistant coach Jacques Decrion who is a former pro from the 80's. He last year won the Giro della Valle d'Aosta, a race in the Italian Alps that reveals climbers.
"For now, Thibaut lacks strength on the flat," Madiot continued. Française des Jeux changed his program after his encouraging showing in Romandie. They sent him to the Dauphiné, which is another ProTour race with huge climbs, rather than the Tour of Luxemburg for which he was initially scheduled. "He was in a good period, so it was interesting to see what he'd do at this level of racing. It's a good start," Madiot concluded.
For the two remaining mountainous stages of the Dauphiné, Française des Jeux will not ask Pinot for anything as they also have Rémy Di Gregorio and Christophe Le Mével for the climbs. The team with the four-leaved clover doesn't want to burn Pinot out. Young Frenchmen do not always confirm straight away the climbing abilities they show at the Dauphiné. Di Gregorio was the king of the mountains in the Alpine race in 2007 and Pierre Rolland did so as well in 2008.