Vuelta 2022 – Frustrated after the Tour, Thibaut Pinot aims for a stage victory in the Tour of Spain

Vuelta 2022 - Frustrated after the Tour, Thibaut Pinot aims for a stage victory in the Tour of Spain
Don’t talk to Thibaut Pinot about his 15th place (14th with the disqualification of Nairo Quintana announced on Wednesday) on the Tour de France. What is it worth when you have known the podium and the intoxication of believing in the final victory? Not much in his eyes (and ours). What Pinot wanted, and still wants – this is moreover the purpose of his presence on the Vuelta which starts on Friday from Utrecht (Netherlands) – was a stage success on a large round. Usual catch-up session, the Tour of Spain will offer him many opportunities to shine.

He has tried everything, from the Alps to the Pyrenees via the Massif Central. Thibaut Pinot has no regrets about his Grande Boucle… except for not having won. A huge downside therefore, as much as a huge frustration. Feeling accentuated by this cursed Covid which he contracted during the Tour de Suisse, where he had raised his arms, and which condemned him to evolve at 90% of his capacities according to his estimates. “Even at 90%, I saw that I could weigh on the breakawaysrecalls the Groupama-FDJ climber. That’s what frustrated me. At 100%, it could have been a really top Tour.”

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If in Châtel (4th) or Mende (3rd), some might consider that Pinot produced his effort too late, he did not detect any error for three weeks. “The Covid has done more harm than you think, he swears. It’s a bit of a deceitful disease, it leaves traces in the body for a long time.” Bad luck, the French know. The proof, even his holidays at the end of July were polluted by his “semiannual bronchitis“, says Pinot who does against bad luck a good heart. “Although I was disappointed to have it on vacation, I was glad it didn’t fall on a grand tour. It’s one weight less.”

So, green lights for Pinot? To listen to it, yes. “This is perhaps the first time in my career that I have come out of a Tour so physically and mentally fresh. The next day, I wanted to prepare for the Vuelta“, says the one who has chosen the path of training rather than competition, since he has not hung up a bib since the Champs-Elysées. “My freshness? I explain it quite simply by the fact of not having played the general, he continues. I saw the Tour de France from another side. It was nice to enjoy the Tour without the pressure of being a leader.”

I need to raise my arms

Same topo for the Vuelta or does the general tickle the one who has the best result of 6th place in 2018? “I need to lift my arms and the best way for me is to run like I did on the Tour“, sweeps Pinot who will evolve in a Groupama-FDJ totally turned towards this objective of success in the absence of a leader for the general. in Spain since the 2018 edition had enabled it to win two prestigious bouquets at the Lakes of Covadonga and in Andorra.

2018 is also obviously Vuelta’s model as well as ideal for a Thibaut Pinot who ensures that he does not naturally remember 2020 and his abandonment after only three days, without anyone really knowing elsewhere whether he is sincere or not. The Groupama-FDJ rider will have no ulterior motives for this Vuelta. If he mentions “some Italian races“, he knows that the end of the season suits him less. Like the course of the Worlds, which he regrets, in Australia for which Thomas Voeckler, the coach, has not yet contacted him anyway.

In a little over three weeks, Thibaut Pinot will know what conclusions to draw from a 2022 season which saw him return to a very good level after two struggling years. “My season is okay, but it’s not enough for mehe nevertheless supports. The big goal was the Tour de France, I failed in my quest.” And even after having known hell or not far, Pinot refuses to cycle just for fun: “Pleasure is important, but winning a stage… I had two successes this year and I want to continue with that. For me, having a good season means winning on the big laps.” He has 21 steps left, a little less in truth, to get there.

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