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Thibaut Pinot announces comeback starting with Tour du Limousin

GOURDON FRANCE FEBRUARY 19 Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama FDJ Jesus Herrada Lopez of Spain and Team Cofidis Solution Credits during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 1 a 1868km stage from Biot to Gourdon 698m letour0683 on February 19 2021 in Gourdon France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Pinot in action at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var earlier this season (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Groupama-FDJ rider Thibaut Pinot has confirmed his return to racing after over three months away, announcing his upcoming schedule on Twitter on Friday.

The Frenchman has suffered from a back injury ever since crashing at last year's Tour de France. He battled through to the end, then rode two stages of the Vuelta a España before calling it quits.

In 2021, he has 17 race days under his belt, including Tirreno-Adriatico. He was aiming for a Giro d'Italia bid in May but hasn't raced since the Tour of the Alps in late April.

Pinot will next race at the four-day Tour du Limousin on August 17, he announced. Each of the five race he'll be taking part in are ranked at the .1 level and in France, signalling that he's easing his way back rather than jumping back into WorldTour action.

He'll follow up the Tour du Limousin with the four-day Tour du Poitou-Charentes (August 24-27) before taking on three one-day races in early September – the Classic Grand Besançon Doubs (September 3), the Tour du Jura (September 4), and the Tour du Doubs (September 5).

"Finally!" Pinot wrote on Twitter, listing the races. "It's time for the recovery and it will be 100 per cent French. See you soon."

The schedule means that Pinot will complete a season without racing a Grand Tour for the first time since his neo-pro seasons in 2010 and 2011. It is unknown whether he will take part in any of the late season WorldTour races such as Il Lombardia or the Tour of Guangxi.

Pinot's team manager Marc Madiot admitted in June that he regretted the way Pinot's injury has been handled. The veteran manager said that the plan after Pinot returns to racing is to focus on next season and a return to Grand Tour action.

"Right now, we’re trying to get back on our feet, but he has suffered the consequences for a long time. We shouldn’t have let him put himself in that state," Madiot said.

"I hope he will be able to race again in a normal way in the coming weeks or months. Once we’ve completed that stage, it’ll be time to focus on next season – on the Tour, Giro, or Vuelta.

"But first of all, he has to rediscover the full extent of his capacities, which is still not the case today. If we manage to do that, I have no doubts about the guy or his ability to get back to the top level."

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Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in 2019 after working freelance at pretty much everywhere in cycling media for seven years.