Tour of Spain: Thibaut Pinot does not aim for the general classification

He had been left a month ago on the Champs-Elysées at the finish of the Tour wounded, bruised, discouraged. It was the end of a long ordeal for him because of a terrible back pain that he dragged on for three weeks. It was the result of a fall on the slippery road during the first stage in Nice.

We find Thibaut Pinot this Tuesday at the start of the Vuelta (October 20-November 8) in Irun. A very special Tour of Spain: it too has been postponed because of the pandemic. It takes place at the same time as the… Italian Giro which ends on Sunday and it is run on a course almost exclusively in the north of the Iberian Peninsula with a foray to the top of the Tourmalet in the French Pyrenees next Sunday. One thing is certain: it will be cold on the roads of the Vuelta which are also taken by Christopher Froome, Tom Dumoulin or Primoz Roglic, the outgoing winner. The snow is even announced: “Between the weather and the Covid, we do not know how far this Vuelta will go” said Marc Madiot, manager of Groupama-FDJ.

Here is the stage set. Even if he is not cheerful, Pinot knows where he is going, knows the difficulties but he wants to be there. A little to forget: “I did not want to finish the season on the Tour de France, slips the climber of Groupama-FDJ. I hope above all that this Vuelta will help me have a good winter by giving me pleasure that I haven’t had for long enough. “

“I am not 100%”

To hear it, the Frenchman has obviously not yet digested his Tour du Malheur, neither physically nor mentally. Suddenly, he arrives without ambition for victory, a podium or even a Top 10. “I’m not 100%, he concedes. This is the first time that I have arrived on a Grand Tour without the perspective of the general classification with many questions about my condition. Between my fatigue after the Tour, the weather and my back which did not allow me to do heavy training, I had a complicated preparation. But I hope to gain strength and regain sensations. “

The leader of Groupama-FDJ is not in Spain to be the boss. He, who won two stages of the Vuelta 2018, presents himself as David Gaudu’s lieutenant, promoted to team leader: “I’m here to help David (Gaudu) and bring my experience, confirms Pinot. We have a great team, I have confidence in him to deliver a good result and I, why not go and look for stages in the second and third weeks. »Once the feelings have returned. This is what Madiot also expects: “Thibaut had a chaotic convalescence. He sees things from day to day. What matters to him is getting the machine back on track. Physically his back is better but he still suffers from it. “

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