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Fans of Thibaut Pinot have been willing the Frenchman on in the Tour de France, particularly after a huge effort on stage 9 saw him go close to disputing the stage win, and may have felt something was brewing on Wednesday’s stage 17 to Peyragudes.
The Groupama-FDJ rider attacked eight kilometers from the top of the Col d’Aspin, going clear with Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan), and took the full complement of points atop that climb and the subsequent Hourquette d’Ancizan. However, both were reeled in by a chase group on the Col de Val Louron-Azet, and Pinot eventually crossed the line 31st, 11:09 behind the stage winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
He was disappointed after the stage, saying he regrets not performing as he wanted to do.
“Personally, there are no good things to remember. I’m bad, I’m not good. I wanted to get ahead to move with the best just before the last climb but I was dropped and I couldn’t do anything,” he told media close to the finish line.
“I’m disappointed. I tried to help David Gaudu, I had one small bullet left to help him get onto a small group but for me, it’s really frustrating. I’m so far from my level. Personally, it’s complicated and I feel that I don’t bring anything to the team, so it’s hard.”
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Pinot finished third in the 2014 Tour de France and has won three stages during his career. The last of those was in 2019 when he triumphed atop the Col du Tourmalet. He was one of the strongest in the race that year but had to withdraw on stage 19 with a muscle tear while just 20 seconds off eventual winner Egan Bernal.
He crashed on the opening stage of the 2020 edition and suffered a back injury that held him back for over a year.
Seen as an underdog but with flashes of brilliance, his dynamic, expressive racing style appeals to many following the sport, as does his battling spirit.
He took a dramatic victory on the final stage of this year’s Tour of the Alps, one day after being pipped for the win and ending that stage in tears. He also won a stage at the Tour de Suisse, but contracted COVID after the race and hasn’t been at his best in this year’s Tour.
The final mountain stage of the race takes place Thursday and brings the riders to the top of Hautacam. He said after Wednesday’s stage that he will give it another shot.
“There’s a new chance tomorrow [Thursday] but tonight I’m disappointed,” he said.
France is still searching for its first stage win in this year’s Tour, something which will spur him on if he has the legs and the luck today.
▪️ Thibaut Pinot à l'attaque : "Il fallait anticiper pour avoir une chance"
▪️ "Un gros numéro de Valentin Madouas"
▪️ Kevin Geniets : "Il n'était pas possible que mon Tour s'arrête là"
— Équipe Cycliste Groupama-FDJ (@GroupamaFDJ) July 20, 2022