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Pinot suffers in Paris-Nice crosswinds

Thibaut Pinot started his 2020 season at the Tour de La Provence
Thibaut Pinot started his 2020 season at the Tour de La Provence (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Thibaut Pinot was within arm's reach of making the lead split when Bora-Hansgrohe attacked in the crosswinds on stage 2 of Paris-Nice but in a moment of weakness he lost the wheel of teammate Stefan Küng and the group was gone with 10km to go on the stage.

Until that moment, Groupama-FDJ directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit said the team had five men in the front group of about 30 riders.

"These are uncertain situations, because you can very well succeed for 35 kilometres, and in a blink of an eye, everything can change," Mauduit said. "That's why we have to keep working on these racing tactics and techniques, but in any case I am satisfied with the team as a whole.

"Until now, in these situations, we were rather passive. Today, they impacted the race and it is interesting because psychologically, especially, it gives them confidence for the future."

Pinot dropped from a 25-second deficit to leader Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) to a 43-second gap, but fared better than Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who punctured, and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), who crashed. Both lost 1:25.

Küng, who tried to close the gap for Pinot, said there is room for improvement.

"Before coming to Paris-Nice, we said that the objective was to work as a team in these situations. Even when you are caught behind, you should not let go, and push until the end. This is what we did today; we gave everything we had and we did the best we could. However, we cannot say that we did everything perfectly. I'm giving us six out of 10: it's good that we took some time on Alaphilippe and Quintana, but I think we were able to be in front. The goal is never to finish in the second group – it is to be in the first one. But we are on the right track."

Pinot was glad to get through two stages of crosswind battles and still be in a decent position in the overall standings.

"I have no regrets that we failed to hang on to the first echelon today. I was exhausted; I just didn't have the legs anymore," he said.

"Overall, I am satisfied with my day, and the balance is rather good after two tricky stages. The team has been very strong today. Whatever happens, the work that has been done is very positive and gives me confidence for the rest of the season, especially in the echelon situations, which are not my speciality."

There could be another repeat of the first two stages on Tuesday, so the team will still be on high alert on the 212.5km stage from Chalette-sur-Loing to La Châtre.

"I hope to recover a bit for the time trial on Wednesday, which is very important to me," Pinot said.

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