Skip to main content

Pinot reels in Contador to clinch stage win, podium place in Ruta del Sol

Image 1 of 5

Thibaut Pinot attacks on his way to winning stage 2 at Ruta del Sol.

Thibaut Pinot attacks on his way to winning stage 2 at Ruta del Sol. (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
Image 2 of 5

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) wins stage 2 at Ruta del Sol

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) wins stage 2 at Ruta del Sol (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
Image 3 of 5

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) wins stage 2 at Ruta del Sol

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) wins stage 2 at Ruta del Sol (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
Image 4 of 5

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) on the stage 2 podium at Ruta del Sol

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) on the stage 2 podium at Ruta del Sol (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
Image 5 of 5

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) on the stage 2 podium at Ruta del Sol

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) on the stage 2 podium at Ruta del Sol (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

A well-calculated effort by Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) has netted the Frenchman a classy summit victory ahead of no less a star climber than Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), in what is Pinot's first win since the French National Championships last June.

Pinot had told Cyclingnews before the Ruta del Sol began he was concerned about his form after falling sick in the Vuelta a Valencia with gastroenteritis. But after taking seventh in the opening stage of the Ruta at Granada five seconds behind Contador, at Mancha Real the French climber has gone six places better.

The 26-year-old calculated his strength brilliantly, letting Contador open up a sizable gap before slowly but surely reaching the Spaniard with less than 500 metres to go. Then, with a sudden surge round Contador's right, he opened up a two second gap for the win.

"I was able to calculate my strength well on the climb and I certainly felt better than on stage 1 and was well supported by my team-mates all day," Pinot told reporters at the finish. "I suffered a bit when Contador attacked, but then getting past the other riders on the climb" - amongst them Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Wout Poels (Team Sky) - "boosted my confidence and I started to track him down."

"Beating Contador," he said, "was something very special. He's an amazing climber, and I've learned a lot from him. It feels very special."

Pinot is now second overall, three seconds down on Contador, which - should he hold onto that position - would be France's best result in the Ruta del Sol since Laurent Jalabert in 1998. However, given his time trialling skills, it is possible Pinot overhauls Contador in the stage 3 time trial and becomes the first ever French rider to take the venerable five-day Spanish stage race in its 92-year history.

"I had good legs, and now what I'll have to do is try to see what I can do in the time trial," Pinot observed. "There are a lot of big names here, and it'll be a real battle. We're all more or less at the same level in terms of time trialling and pretty much tied on time, so that's going to be tough. But if I feel as good tomorrow [Friday] as I do today, then I can hope for a good result."

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

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

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

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

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.