On the morning of the Tour de Suisse's queen stage, Thibaut Pinot told L'Équipe he was going for the stage win and duly delivered as he soloed to victory on the 2669 metre high Rettenbachgletscher glacier. The stage win also saw Pinot move into the overall race lead, his first WorldTour leader's jersey.
"I'm very happy. It’s an important win for me and for the team. We wanted to win this stage and I had good legs today to do it," said Pinot, who also won a stage at the Tour de Romandie this season. "It's good for my confidence and that's important in view of the Tour de France. Winning will help me stay relaxed and it's true, racing in Switzerland seems to suit me."
FDJ's sport director at the race, Yvon Madiot praised Pinot for remaining clam throughout the stage and showing himself as the strongest rider on the stage as he picked off the breakaway riders who were up the road to give himself a "substantial" lead over the other GC riders.
Madiot added that his team is ready and able to protect Pinot's overall lead in the coming days.
"Jérémy Roy is riding well, Mathieu Ladagnous is very strong. Sébastien Chavanel and William Bonnet do a tremendous job. Arthur Vichot is getting better and Steve Morabito is a great road captain," Madiot said of his riders. "The easiest stages of this tour are coming and if ever there was danger, I know the sprinters teams, especially Cavendish's, will ride. I'm not worried."
In 2015, Pinot has finished fourth (Tirreno-Adriatico), tenth (Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco) and fourth (Tour de Romandie) in the WorldTour races he has started. Pinot's sole overall victory as a professional remains the 2011 2.1 Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda but the 25-year-old came close in March as he finished second at the Critérium International.
The final day 38.4km time trial is likely to decide the overall standings and will be key to Pinot's hope of a breakthrough stage race win on the eve of the Tour de France. Pinot has shown improvement this season against the clock but will face a stern challenge from Tom Dumoulin who sits 1:32 minutes in arrears, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) at 1:27 minutes back and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) who is just 47 seconds down.
"The goal is to win the Tour de Suisse but the rouleurs like Thomas and Dumoulin aren't far back," he conceded. "It'll be a long and difficult time trial. We'll see what happens on the day."