Thibaut Pinot was out for revenge on the summit of the Tourmalet after the “injustice” of losing time in crosswinds on stage 10 of the Tour de France.
The French star proved himself the strongest of the overall favourites on stage 14, as he powered away from his rivals 250 metres from the line to take stage victory and gain back some lost time.
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But Pinot is still an outsider for the general classification, after he lost 1-40 to most rivals when crosswinds struck during a seemingly innocuous sprint stage on day 10.
Speaking after his stage victory, the Groupama-FDJ rider said: “I’ve been angry since the crosswinds. For me it was an injustice to have lost time, something that wasn’t deserved. There was a huge desire for revenge.
“The Tour is only just beginning for me. We’re just getting into the third week and the Alps are still a long way off.”
Despite his phenomenal performance as the Tour de France 2019 ventured into the high mountains for the first time, Pinot still sits sixth overall, 3-12 behind race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), whose remarkable display saw him extend his lead as he finished second on the Tourmalet.
If Pinot hadn’t lost time in the wind, he would sit 1-32 down on Alaphilippe, in second place overall.
On his victory atop the iconic mountain, the 29-year-old said: “It’s magnificent, exceptional, magical. Today was the first real mountain stage, the first test. I’ve been thinking about this stage since the start of the Tour. This was one that I really wanted. The Tourmalet is mythical. I’m happy, it’s the kind of racing I love.”
But if Pinot does want to stay in the fight for yellow, he faces the seemingly insurmountable task of toppling Alaphilippe, who gained time in both the hilly Pau time trial and the first real mountain challenge on stage 14.
Pinot added: “Julian was very strong and he’s well set to do something great. He’s starting to make everyone afraid. I’m still more than three minutes behind him. I’m going to take it stage by stage and keep a cool head. I’m targeting the podium.”