Thibaut Pinot is expected to be present on the start line of the Tour de France 2022, his Groupama-FDJ boss Marc Madiot has said.
The Frenchman sat out the 2021 Tour, not racing a Grand Tour in a season for the first time since his debut three-week stage race in 2012, as he continued to recover from injury.
While that back pain is still bothering the 31-year-old, a return to his home Grand Tour in 2022, the route of which was revealed last week, is the plan for Pinot next year.
“If everything goes well, he will start,” Madiot told RMC, yet remains wary of piling pressure and expectation on the shoulders of his rider.
“But first we have to finish this season and go through the course in detail. The last few days he still had some back pain, so we'll see. We have to be wary of first impressions and euphoria around the announcement, because in cycling you can't look too far ahead."
While Pinot crashed on a chaotic opening day of the 2020 Tour, ruining his chances of competing for the yellow jersey from the off, his 2019 Tour campaign was looking promising, entering the final few stages only a few seconds off the other GC contenders before injury put paid to his chances.
“I'm a bit divided about that stage,” Marc Madiot says of the cobbled stage included in the 2022 route, which presents a particular hazard to the peloton. “Some teams ride to win that stage, some not to lose it. This results in little freedom of movement. It looks good on paper, but once you're on the floor…”
A similarly chaotic opening week should present itself at the 2022 Tour, but there are enough mountains where Pinot will hope to make the difference, despite the likes of Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič exploding onto the Tour scene since the last time Pinot was competitive in his home race.
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