Thibaut Pinot‘s long love-hate relationship with the Tour de France will go on pause in 2021.
The Frenchman confirmed Tuesday that he will be racing the Giro d’Italia while his Groupama-FDJ team will send sprinter Arnaud Démare to the Tour.
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“My goal will be the Giro. I will do everything to be 100 percent for the Giro and prepare as best as possible,” Pinot said during his team’s online presentation. “It’s a carefully considered decision. I think it was time for me to return to the Giro d’Italia.”
Groupama-FDJ’s Tour ambitions will instead center around French national champ Démare, who for the last two seasons was left off the startlist for his home race as team manager Marc Madiot selected a GC-focussed team.
The 29-year-old marked himself as one of the fastest in the bunch in a stellar season last year. With the 2021 Tour de France route packing a stack of sprint finishes, Démare made for the obvious choice in what will be his first Tour start since 2018.
While the traditional Tour route on tap for this summer played into the hands of Démare’s fast-finishing, it also contributed to Pinot’s call to race in Italy. With nearly 60km of time trialing at this summer’s race, the Tour leans toward GC contenders with big motors rather than natural climbers such as Pinot.
“Seeing the Tour de France route, I understood that it was not a route for me this year,” Pinot said. “On the other hand, when I understood the main shape of the Giro route, I also understood that it was a race that was going to suit me.”
Pinot has sat out the Tour de France just once since debuting at the race in 2012, with his 2018 absence the result of illness rather than intention. The 30-year-old has followed a rollercoaster ride through his eight Tours to date, with a career-best third-place in 2014 giving way to injury-blighted campaigns and mid-race abandons in recent years.
Pinot added that his long and at-times torrid relationship with the Tour de France is not yet over.
“I hope to come back to the Tour de France in 2022, that’s the goal,” he said. “Since I became pro in 2012, I only missed the Tour one season, in 2018, and the year after in 2019 I may have had my best Tour, so if that can allow me to return to 100 percent for the Tour in 2022, that will be a bonus for everyone.”