The 2019 Tour de France is far from over, in fact, if it was half-time in a football match the score would be 1-0 for Team Ineos over Thibaut Pinot’s Groupama-FDJ team, says boss Marc Madiot.
The Frenchman, third in the 2014 Tour, and the team spoke on the first rest day. It was 24 hours after stage 10, where he lost 1-40 minutes to Geraint Thomas and others in the crosswinds to Albi.
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“When I read the newspapers this morning and looking at various cycling websites, I had the impression that were preparing for a burial, but I can assure you that we are very much alive and in good health,” Madiot said.
“Cycling is ups and downs. Yesterday we descended more than we climbed. We’ve done 10 stages, now there are 10 stages left, and those 10 the hardest stages. If we were in a football match, we’d say we were at half-time and the score was 1-0.
“1-0 is not a defeat. It’s not the end of the match. We have numerous examples in sport. it’s never over.”
Pinot had sat on top of the classification battle heading into stage 10, but afterwards, on Tuesday, the first rest day, he sat 1-21 minutes down from Thomas. He and other stars Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Jakob Fuglsang (Team Astana), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First) were split from the front.
“We’d have preferred not to lose 1-40 yesterday but the Tour is never linear, it never works out like how you’d dreamt it. The first week went perfectly, not faults. OK, there was a collective error yesterday and it was expensive. But we have to accept it, that’s the law of sport, the race,” Madiot continued.
“We’re not going to give up. It was a roundabout taken badly and a missed split. Cycling isn’t as simple as it seems sometimes. It didn’t go as we’d have wanted. Tomorrow on repart au charbon.”
It’s back to work tomorrow for Pinot and the others who want to try to make up time before the race ends in two weeks in Paris. After a flat stage, which could be ravaged by more crosswinds, the race has a time trial and many mountain passes.
“Yes, I’m confident still,” Pinot said.
“There are three big days in a row, there’s the time trial, the Tourmalet and the stage to Foix. Those are three stages where a lot can happen. We know the Tourmalet, it’s a summit finish, it will hurt.”
Besides third overall, Pinot won two stages in the Tour over the years. This summer, he won the Tour de l’Ain and finished fifth in the Critérium du Dauphiné.
“I hope to have the legs that can allow me to take back time. In the Pyrenees and Alps, we’ll look to ride aggressively. We’ve got a team that can do that. We’ve got climbers who are suited to these mountain stages,” Pinot added.
“Ineos is still the best team. But on La Planche des Belles, we had no reason to envy Ineos and that’s something that gives us confidence for what’s to come. We’ll start to see on Thursday and certainly on the Tourmalet on Saturday, where I think they’ll try to impose their rhythm, and that’s where we’ll see if they’re as strong as in other years.”