Pinot unsure of 2014 Tour de France preparation

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) has hinted that he may forgo the Tour de France next season in order to ride the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, but he will await the presentation of the 2014 route in Paris next week before reaching a decision.

“I’m waiting to see the profile of the Tour before I decide on what to do, and see if I perhaps go to the Giro and Vuelta instead. My programme isn’t defined yet,” Pinot told Eurosport in an interview televised in France on Monday.

Pinot finished 7th overall in his Vuelta debut last month, bouncing back from a disappointing Tour where he had abandoned through illness at the beginning of the third week.

The 23-year-old Frenchman has yet to ride the Giro, but he has made no secret of his affection for Italian racing, and the plethora of summit finishes in the final week of next year’s corsa rosa seem well suited to his talents. In 2011, Pinot claimed the general classification at the Settimana Lombarda and came close to victory at the Tre Valli Varesine, while he was aggressive in the finale of this year’s Tour of Lombardy.

Pinot ruled out the prospect of riding both the Giro and the Tour next year, pointing out that the Giro and Vuelta was a more feasible combination. “Perhaps there won’t be the Tour de France, maybe it will be a combination of the Giro and Vuelta, but I haven’t made any decision yet,” Pinot said. “I’ll have to talk about it with the team in the coming week.”

La Planche des Belles Filles on the route in 2014?

Pinot may yet be convinced to ride the Tour by what he sees when the lights go down at the Palais des Congrès next Wednesday, however. The race is expected to visit his home region of Franche-Comté, and as was the case in 2012, French newspaper Le Dauphiné (opens in new tab)has reported that a summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles – a stone’s throw from Pinot’s hometown of Mélisey – could again feature on the parcours.

Pinot made a sparkling Tour de France debut in 2012, taking a stylish stage victory to Porrentruy at the end of the opening week, and then riding confidently to 10th place overall in Paris.

He entered the 2013 race on a high after a strong showing at the Tour de Suisse, but his general classification hopes evaporated when he was dropped on the descent of the Port de Pailhères on the opening day in the mountains. Pinot subsequently abandoned the race on the second rest day due to illness.

“Last year, after the Tour, the bar was set very high and the expectation was that I would aim for the top five or win a stage. At the Tour it’s hard to come back and do better again the following year, and the problem I had on descents didn’t help,” Pinot said.

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