Two months after abandoning the Giro d’Italia, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) made his return to competition with a podium finish at the Tour of Pologne. “Now we can prepare for La Vuelta with a relaxed mind”, the French climber says ahead of his third participation in the Spanish grand tour.
Only two weeks ahead of La Vuelta, Tour de Pologne attracts riders who want to perform well in Spain. In 2017, Wouter Poels (Team Sky) won the queen stage before offering essential support to overall winner Chris Froome en route to Madrid. The Dutch climber finished 6th himself and Vincenzo Nibali (2nd), Ilnur Zakarin (3rd) and Wilco Kelderman (4th) had all lined up in Krakow to participate in the one-week World Tour event.
This year, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) made his return to competition in Poland. “When I arrived I was in the unknown regarding my shape, and I came out comforted”, the French climber says. He hadn’t participated in a race since abandoning the Giro in May and finished 3rd overall in Poland, behind Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) who are also set to be major players at La Vuelta.
“THE LEVEL AT LA VUELTA WILL BE REALLY HIGH”
“Except for Kwiatkowski, we mainly saw the riders who didn’t ride the Tour de France”, Thibaut Pinot notes. “We’re going to have a very strong field at La Vuelta with the riders who didn’t do the Tour and those who want to do the Tour and La Vuelta ahead of the World championships. The level will be really high and it should be interesting to watch.”
Thibaut Pinot enjoyed good legs in Poland and saw his teammate Georg Preidler win stage 6. Pinot himself was in the chasing group, covering moves from rivals to make sure his Austrian partner would claim victory. “Georg is someone who does a lot of work in the shadow of his leaders, so to see him win is a good thing for him and for the group”, Thibaut Pinot says. “Now we can prepare for La Vuelta with a relaxed mind.”
“WE’LL SEE IF WE FIGHT FOR THE GENERAL CLASSIFICATION OR A STAGE VICTORY”
Thibaut Pinot’s road to Malaga has led him to Tignes, where he’ll stay until the end of the week before heading to Andalusia. “I’m going to do some training sessions in the mountain and then rest, the start of La Vuelta is coming fast”, the Frenchman says ahead of his third participation in the Spanish grand tour (7th overall in 2013, abandon in 2014).
“I’ll try to get into a rhythm as La Vuelta goes on”, he anticipates. “I’ll see how things go day by day and we’ll assess the situation midway through La Vuelta, to see if we fight for the general classification, if I’m close to the top 5, or if we aim for a stage victory in the third week. We’ll discuss it along the race.” Already a stage winner on the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, Thibaut Pinot will find at La Vuelta mountainous terrain to add a La Vuelta victory to his tally.
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