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Thibaut Pinot will skip 2021 Tour de France in favour of Giro d'Italia

Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot has continued at this year’s Tour de France – perhaps with an eye on the stage 20 time trial on home roads – despite having fallen out of contention for the GC on stage 8 of the race
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Thibaut Pinot will skip the Tour de France in 2021 in favour of the Giro d’Italia. Arnaud Démare and David Gaudu will instead headline the Groupama-FDJ squad at the Tour.

Pinot confirmed his decision during Groupama-FDJ's online team presentation on Tuesday.

"This year my objective will be the Giro. I’ll do everything to be 100 per cent for the Giro," Pinot said.

"I thought a lot about this decision. It was the right time to return to the Giro. I saw the Tour parcours wasn’t suited to me this year. I hope to come back to the Tour in 2022.

"The maglia rosa, like the yellow jersey, makes you dream. It’s one of the most beautiful races to try to win."

It will be Pinot’s third appearance at the Giro. He placed fourth overall on his debut in 2017 and looked set for a podium finish the following year only to abandon after falling ill on the penultimate stage.

Pinot focused on the Tour for the past two seasons, but he endured ill fortune on each occasion. In 2019, he was still in contention for France’s first overall victory since 1985 when he was forced to abandon through injury just two days from Paris. In last year’s rescheduled Tour, Pinot’s race was compromised after he crashed heavily on the opening day in Nice, and he finished 29th overall.

Démare returns to the Tour after a two-year hiatus. The sprinter won stages in 2017 and 2018, but he raced the Giro for the past two years as the Tour team was built around Pinot. Démare enjoyed a fine 2020 Giro, winning four stages and claiming the points classification in Milan.

"I’ll ride the Tour de France in 2021. The objective, the dream is to repeat what I did at the Giro," said Démare, who will ride the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Tour de La Provence and Paris-Nice in the early season, before tackling Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix.

While Démare will be accompanied by a strong sprint train at the Tour, there is also room in the Groupama-FDJ line-up for David Gaudu, who won two stages and placed 8th overall at last November’s Vuelta a España. The youngster also rode strongly in support of Pinot at the 2019 Tour, where he eventually placed 13th overall in Paris.

“In 2021, I’ll do Paris-Nice and the Ardennes Classics, and afterwards, I’ll ride the Dauphiné ahead of the big, big objective of my season, the Tour de France,” said Gaudu, who will be joined by another young talent, Valentin Madouas at the Tour. Madouas revealed during Tuesday's presentation that he signed a three-year contract extension with Groupama-FDJ that will keep at the team until the end of the 2024 season.

The route of the 2021 Giro will not be unveiled until early February, but Pinot is among a number of contenders who have already confirmed their participation in the corsa rosa, which takes place from May 8-30. 

Vincenzo Nibali, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) and Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) are all set to line out in the race, while Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) has also expressed interest in making his Giro debut.