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Thibaut Pinot casts doubt on Giro d'Italia appearance

FAYENCE FRANCE FEBRUARY 20 Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama FDJ during the 53rd Tour Des Alpes Maritimes Et Du Var Stage 2 a 1689km stage from Fayence to Fayence 357m letour0683 on February 20 2021 in Fayence France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Thibaut Pinot is not yet certain he will line up at the Giro d'Italia next month as he continues to deal with a back problem that he describes as 'the worst injury of my career'. 

Pinot suffered a blow to the back on the opening stage of last year's Tour de France, and a haematoma initially concealed cracks in his sacrum and pelvis. He struggled on to Paris but later abandoned the Vuelta a España after two stages and underwent extensive treatment in the winter. 

So far this season, the Groupama-FDJ leader has raced the Tour du Var, Ardèche Classic, Trofeo Laigueglia, and Tirreno-Adriatico, but hasn't competed since mid-March. He'll line up at the Tour of the Alps on Monday as his final preparation for the Giro, but it will be more of a fitness test than a bid for victory. 

"I'm due to ride the Giro but I won't go if I'm not at 100 per cent. At 95 per cent, I won't go, that's for sure, because it's the most difficult race and I don't want to re-live last year's Tour and Vuelta again," Pinot told L'Equipe

"The real answer will come at the Tour of the Alps, where I'm not going for a result, but to test myself and see if it's any better. We'll know straight away, because it's a hard race right from the start."

Pinot insisted that his mind is on the Giro but did reveal there are "several back-up plans" in the works. However, he all-but confirmed that he will not go back on his decision to skip the Tour de France entirely this year. 

"I hope to stick to Plan A, but whatever happens, I'll have races on my programme because I don't want to spend two or three months training. What's certain is that the Tour de France is 99 per cent out of the question, because we've never spoken about it, the squad is already in place, and there is not reason for me to impose myself."

Pinot said he was optimistic about his injury but nevertheless revealed that things still haven't resolved themselves entirely and that the encouraging signs from recent training rides won't necessarily carry over to the cut and thrust of racing. 

He revealed he had a cortisone injection to treat the problem over the winter, and has since had to put in the hard yards with the osteopath and physiotherapists, adjusting his bike set-up and strengthening the muscles around his back. 

"We've identified the problem and we know where we're going but it's going to take time. I have to be patient to come back as before, but it's eight months since the crash and that's getting long," he said.

"Going to the Giro and enjoying the mountain stages, that's all I want. It's not even a question of raising the arms. My greatest victory this year would be to come through this difficult period, rediscover my level, no longer be in pain, and to animate the races again.

"It's the biggest injury of my career and I'm starting to become impatient for things to get better because I don't race my bike to find myself so far down the standings."

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