Groupama-FDJ are expected to confirm their 2021 race programmes and objectives during a team presentation on Tuesday. However, BFM and RMC Sport claim Pinot will ride the Giro d’Italia as he did in 2017 and 2018.
Pinot returned to the Tour in 2019 and looked set to fight for overall success, only for a muscle injury to force him to abandon. He was supposed to lead Groupama-FDJ at the 2020 Tour de France but crashed hard on stage 1 in Nice and suffered with back pain for the rest of the race. He started the Vuelta a España but abandoned after three stages due to his back problems.
The 2021 Tour de France includes two individual time trials and few mountain finishes than in recent years, making it more difficult for Pinot to be a contender. The route of the Giro d’Italia has still to be unveiled but is expected to be more mountainous and with fewer time trials.
Pinot finished fourth in the 2017 Corsa Rosa but was forced to quit the race in 2018 after stage 20 due to illness. He has always expressed his love of Italian cycling and a return to the Giro d’Italia appears a logical solution to help him rebuild his career after the suffering of 2020.
Pinot could clash with Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) at the Giro d’Italia, with the Colombian also keen to ride in Italy in May as he works on his recovery from the back injury and imbalance that forced him out of the Tour de France. Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Simon Yates (BikeExchange), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep), and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious).
Sprinter Arnaud Démare and talented young rider David Gaudu are likely to lead Groupama-FDJ at the Tour de France in Pinot’s absence.
Démare won the points jersey and four stages at the Giro d’Italia, with his well-drilled lead out train dominating the sprints. 24-year-old Gaudu won two mountain stages at the Vuelta a España and finished eighth overall.
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