After seeing the route for the 2021 Tour de France unveiled in Paris on Sunday evening, French favourite Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) says that he believes the parcours is more suited to 'complete riders' than pure climbers.
"It's a really classic Tour route, and quite different from those of recent years, with quite a lot of sprints and quite a lot of stages that really suit the puncheurs, in particular," Pinot told L'Equipe on Sunday evening. "The Pyrenees are going to be pretty tough, I think, but generally it's a route that is less suited to the climbers and one that is more suited to complete riders due to the two time trials [stages 5 and 20]."
Pinot was forced to quit the 2019 Tour with a thigh injury, just three days away from Paris, while in fifth place overall. He was 1:50 down on then race leader and compatriot Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), but just 20 seconds behind eventual race winner Egan Bernal of Team Ineos.
Pinot then went into the rescheduled 2020 Tour as one of the big favourites, but crashed on the opening stage in Nice, injuring his back, and never fully recovered over the following days, falling out of contention on stage 8, and hinting afterwards that his days targeting the general classification could be over.
"Maybe this is a turning point in my career. I always said what I enjoyed was fighting for races. This was too much for me," he said at the time, but nevertheless battled on to Paris to take 29th place overall.
Of the 2021 Tour de France route presented on Sunday, Pinot added: "The course is nevertheless interesting. The stage to Tignes [stage 9] looks to me to be the most beautiful mountain stage of them all."
Pinot's Groupama-FDJ teammate David Gaudu – currently taking part in the Vuelta a España, and the winner of stage 11 on Saturday – said that he was particularly looking forward to the Grand Départ in his home region of Brittany.
"The two first stages look fantastic, and should suit the puncheurs-climbers, with the second stage [Perros-Gueirec to Mûr-de-Bretagne] taking place just 15 kilometres from both my parents' house and where I live," Gaudu told L'Equipe.
"That gives you extra motivation to want to be there, as I know every bend in the road. For us Bretons, the Mûr-de-Bretagne is our Alpe d'Huez, and we'll be cheered up it by the local fans," he said.
"And then in the Pyrenees, we're going to return to the Col du Portet, three years after it first featured in the Tour, which is a climb I really like," said Gaudu, who finished 14th on stage 17 that finished on the climb in 2018.
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