“I see myself continuing with them, but I’m not going to close other doors,” Pinot reveals in an interview with L’Équipe. “I will study any offers that I receive. But let’s see how this season goes first.”
FDJ boss Marc Madiot has yet to confirm whether his team’s deal with his French lottery sponsor will be extended beyond its current expiration date at the end of this year. The indications are that a renewal will be agreed, and Pinot is convinced this will happen.
“Marc is confident. I can see that he’s not worried and consequently I’m not worried either,” says the Frenchman, who has been with FDJ since turning pro in 2010.
“My last contact with other teams, via agents, date back to 2014,” Pinot adds. “I signed a renewal after that year’s Tour. I’ve never been contacted since then.”
The FDJ leader’s principal targets this year will be the Tour de France and the Rio Olympics, where he wants to take part in the time trial as well as the road race. He admits that he will be putting more emphasis on his time trialling, a domain where he is improving significantly.
“I aspire to reach the level of the other climbers in flat time trials during stage races,” Pinot says. “When I turned pro at 19, I only had the strength of a junior and used to lose a minute every 10 kilometres, which knocked my motivation. But time trialling is no longer a calvary, it’s now a pleasure.”
Pinot, who reveals he is very keen to get his racing programme under way at the GP La Marseillaise on 31 January, also admits he has a good feeling about this year’s Tour route.
“Right from the presentation of the 2015 edition, I didn’t have a good feeling about it,” says the FDJ leader, who finished a rather disappointing 16th overall, but won the stage to Alpe d’Huez. “But this year I really like the look of it. I’m pleased with the route, and especially with the finish in the Massif Central as early as the fifth day.”
Pinot adds he is pleased with the arrival of Swiss climber Sébastien Reichenbach from IAM Cycling. Reichenbach will join compatriot Steve Morabito as one of the Frenchman’s key domestiques in the mountains.
“We were looking for a climber who is a bit like me, someone who is solid and is continuing to progress in the mountains,” he explains. “He is from the Valais region like Steve Morabito. They are calm and always good-humoured. Their presence does me a lot of good because I really need calmness.”
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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).