Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) must continue his attacking ways as the 2019 Tour de France transitions to the Alps if he wants to have a chance to overthrow Geraint Thomas (Ineos) for the overall victory.
Pinot is chipping away at the win, gaining 46 seconds to Thomas on Saturday and 49 seconds on Sunday. Now, he sits 1-50 back, having made up the time lost in the crosswind stage to Albi.
“The three stages are beautiful, I know the last two very well,” Pinot said of the three consecutive Alpine stages ahead in the final week.
“The hardest, I think, is that of the Galibier [Thursday]. I do not have to choose, it will depend on my legs. If they are good I will go on the attack.”
Another Frenchman, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) leads the overall. Geraint Thomas (Ineos) sits second at 1-35, Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) at 1-47 and with the gains, Pinot moved up two spots to fourth at 1-50. Close behind is Thomas’s team-mate Egan Bernal at 2-02 and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 2-14.
Pinot is not worrying about his rivals, but time in the overall. It is music for the ears of fans who love an attacking race.
“I was never afraid of anyone, I wanted to win Saturday, it’s done. I thought about the general, yesterday [Sunday] but I did not calculate,” he continued.
“I’m here to take time, it’s the type of bike riding that I like, to attack without calculating.”
Pinot and Alaphilippe mania sweeps France. Every day, L’Equipe newspaper prints two-page spreads celebrating their home riders.
“If the pressure crushed me, I would not be here, I would not have won on the Tourmalet, the big cheers just encourage me, they give me wings,” Pinot said.
“It’s like in a stadium, we’re always stronger when it comes to playing at home, it also helps Julian. We rely on the support of the public to push us as high as possible.”
Already, Pinot placed third overall in the 2014 Tour de France. In the Vuelta a España last year, he finished sixth and then won Il Lombardia.
“We’ll see on Val Thorens on Saturday, I do not think about that, even though I showed some nice things this weekend,” he said of the possibility of winning the overall.
“I’m fourth in the standings, I learned not to get a big head, but just keep racing like I do.”