Thibaut Pinot will tackle the Tour de France once more in 2022

Frenchman aims for podium again eight years after he last achieved the feat, will be joined by David Gaudu and Michael Storer

Thibaut Pinot
Thibaut Pinot celebrates winning stage 14 of the 2019 Tour de France, his last victory at the race
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Thibaut Pinot will return to the Tour de France for the first time since 2020 this year, with sprinter Arnaud Démare heading to the Giro d'Italia instead.

Groupama-FDJ announced their leaders for the Tour and Giro at a team presentation on Wednesday, where much of the Tour squad was also revealed.

Alongside Pinot, who has won three stages at the Tour and finished third in 2014, will be David Gaudu, Stefan Küng, Valentin Madouas, and new signing Michael Storer.

The Frenchman crashed heavily in the first week of the 2022 race, which aggravated a back injury which has plagued him since. He did not compete in any of the grand tours last year, riding just 38 race days.

In 2019, he looked set to be a strong contender for the overall at the race before he innocuously injured his knee; he was 1:50 behind race leader Julian Alaphilippe with a stage win already in his pocket when he abandoned stage 19. Pinot hopes to be back to his best for this year's race, which begins in Copenhagen on 1 July.

“I want to regain my level and win races," he said. "I want to become the rider again before my fall on the Tour 2020. The Tour de France will be the highlight of my season with this common goal: a podium on the Champs-Élysées."

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Pinot will be joined by Gaudu, who finished 11th at the 2021 Tour. The pair will vie for leadership along with Storer, the Australian who joined from DSM over the winter.

Team boss Marc Madiot said: "For the Tour de France, we’re going to go with extremely high ambitions. We want to fight for the podium...

"We’re six months away from the Tour, and it will be the evolution of the riders’ physical condition, along with the circumstances of the race, that will influence things. I can’t say right now who the main leader will be."

On Storer, the Frenchman said: "We’ll see how the race unfolds but, from what we saw of him in the mountains, notably at the Vuelta, he can be taken into consideration."

The Australian won two stages of the Vuelta a España last year and the mountains classification. 

"In the first place, the squad is built around David and Thibaut," Madiot continued. "But when you look at the general classification in recent years, ok, Pogačar has won, but when you look at some of the guys below him, how many would you have put on the podium or in the top-five six months beforehand?"

Gaudu has ambitions for finishing higher up the GC this year, with the 25-year old expressing a desire to finish on the podium too.

"I want to transform the top ten into top five, the top five into podiums, and the podiums into victories," he said. "The Tour de France will be the major goal of my season, I’m going with the team to aim for the podium in the general classification."

At the Giro, Démare will aim for sprint victories, which he won four of in 2020 along with the points jersey. He will be joined by Attila Valter, who is aiming to impress again after spending time in the pink jersey last year. The race begins in Budapest, and the Hungarian riders has spoken of his desire to impress on home roads.

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