for his farewell to the Tour, Thibaut Pinot’s family and fans set fire to the Petit Ballon

The penultimate passage of the day’s stage was the scene of an outburst of love for the French rider, who will conclude the last Tour de France of his career on Sunday.

It was just for him. Singing to his glory, dozens of signs and above all more than a thousand spectators crowded into a single curve. For the penultimate stage of his Tour de France career, Thibaut Pinot received a giant bye on Saturday, July 22. If the “Tibopino” earthquake spread all the way from Belfort, the epicenter was located at “Round of Pinots”located two kilometers from the summit of Petit Ballon, the penultimate difficulty of the day.

For the occasion, everyone had gathered on the initiative of the “Fédération Française de la Lose”, humorous media about the misfortunes of the Frenchman, who had often mocked Thibaut Pinot with tenderness, as well as the “Collectif Ultras Pinot”, a small group of fans of the riders who had hijacked the name given to the PSG ultras. “VSIt was decided recently, because we didn’t know if he was going to make the Tour and, behind it, we didn’t know if he was going to finish it.”smiles Guy-Laurent, one of the members of the CUP.

A specially chartered coach, the family in the front row

Some arrived the day before, already warming the bend of the Vosges by nightfall. Others arrived by bus from Paris at midnight. “There were about forty of us on the bus, we sang a little, Thibaut shouted throughout the night”, reveals Alexandre, selected for the trip thanks to a special poster. “The goat is for both: for us it is our GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). And seeing him every time with his goats makes us smile, because he is at his home, in his world. That’s what suits him best.”he continues.

In the ephemeral "Bent Pinot", located two kilometers from the summit of the Petit Ballon, the Collectif ultra Pinot (CUP), a reference to the Collectif ultras Paris du PSG, was present on July 22, 2023 during the 20th stage of the Tour de France.  (THEO GICQUEL / FRANCEINFO: SPORTS)

Since Saturday morning the atmosphere was already on fire. The five letters of “Pinot” marked the streets of the Petit Ballon by the hundreds, the imaginative placards agitated: “Some believe in God, others in Thibaut Pinot” . Crossed over upon their arrival at noon, the Pinot family had smiles on their faces. “These are good times and we tell ourselves that we must take advantage of them because they are the last times in which it happens like this. He knows we’re there, we texted him to tell him there were people in certain places that he knew Heart. I hope it will be in the race. He wants to be an actoranticipated his brother and coach Julien.

It’s impressive. We suspected it, but not quite at this point. Here, it’s really madness, from Belfort, it’s just that. She is moving. It’s a great story that will end”adds his father Régis.

Arthur Vichot luxury setting

If Julien and Régis didn’t take the megaphone to launch the songs to Thibaut’s glory, Arthur Vichot, his former teammate, a close friend, who was already present the day before, took care of it. “At first we didn’t know how it was going to go, but it was incredible, I’ve never seen it before. I hadn’t specifically planned to come, but I told myself she wasn’t far from home, I had to be there. It’s wonderful”explains the two-time French champion.

Thibaut Pinot fans meet in a bend in the Petit Ballon climb, during stage 20 of the Tour de France, July 22, 2023. (THEO GICQUEL / FRANCEINFO: SPORT)

From 10 in the morning until the passage of their hero, his tireless supporters chanted non-stop, haranguing the gendarmes present to celebrate with them, resuming the chants of the fans to give a football stadium atmosphere, or booing at the top of their voices any Jumbo-Visma vehicle that passed, after the risky exit of Richard Plugge, the coach of the Dutch formation, on Friday, singing with irony “uno beer for Jumbo!”


T-shirts, bucket hats, flags and scarves specially made for the occasion overshadowed the caravan. “It is impressive what they have organized. We saw something never seen during the Tour. Several have already done internships, and they are unanimous: they have never seen such an atmosphere.”welcomes Alexander.

Pinot alone at the head of the curve

On the stroke of 4:20, the earth finally shook. Thibaut Pinot appeared alone at the head of the race, as if the symbol should be total. The moment was fleeting, the Frenchman didn’t celebrate, concentrated on a possible stage victory. Some, like Benoit Cosnefroy who joined his hands to thank them, or Quentin Pacher who touched those of all the fans, thought about it for him. “It was incredible from all points of view: the people, the enthusiasm, the sharing and Thibaut enjoying walking past us, alone. I think it will remain one of the fondest memories of his career.”enthuses Arthur Vichot, placed in the center of the curve.

A day of waiting for ten seconds of happiness, that’s what Thibaut Pinot fans experienced on Saturday. Finally 7th in stage, the Frenchman couldn’t resist until the end, despite the encouragement of the fans who had repatriated to the nearby inn to follow the finale.


On Sunday evening, Thibaut Pinot will definitively close his great history with the Grande Boucle, and the joy soon gave way to a certain bitterness. “VSIt’s my best day of the year, but I know it’s all going to come crashing down, because it stops, and Thibaut, that’s twelve years of my life.”, dissolved Guy-Laurent of the CUP. “It is clearly the sign of a new phase in my life. He messed me up, with everything that happened to him! I’m not sad, I’m in a hurry. I don’t want him to do more, I want him to be happy”remember the one who discovered it by chance in a mountain pass in 2009, when Pinot was not yet a professional.

“I’ll never have this crazy thing again, this electricity that I had for this guy. It’s going to make me feel like a big hole, I’m going to have to go to a shrink!”

Guy-Laurent, member of the Ultras Pinot Collective

to franceinfo: sports

Not everyone present on Saturday knew the 2012 Pinot. Some discovered it during its podium finish in 2014, or during its contested Tour in 2019”.All his jails, that it was destroying me, but it also made me love this guy, and I say love because I have no other definition”, Guy-Laurent continues. “Since I stopped, I’ve realized that people like this type of rider: he doesn’t cheat, it’s simple, he gives emotions, positive and negative, and the French public likes it. You can write a novel about his career, he has a personality of his own, and he’s a great champion.”adds Arthur Vichot, retired in 2020.

A huge crowd had gathered on the route of stage 20 of the Tour de France on July 22, 2023, especially to cheer Thibaut Pinot.  (THEO GICQUEL / FRANCEINFO: SPORTS)

Around 18:00, the Cove du Pinot began to empty, as the sun began to set on the peaks of the Vosges. The hired bus left for Paris, the cows present resumed their rights in the trampled meadows, and the fans resumed the course of their lives, after a day of celebration, at times alcoholic, but successful. “From a sporting point of view, it is true that an emblematic figure of French cycling will stop. Now he is iconic. I have the friendly look too, so it makes me happy that he stops too. That way, we’ll be able to do things we couldn’t do before.”welcomes Arthur Vichot.

Jeanne Meyer and her team followed Thibaut Pinot's fans, who flocked to the 20th stage of the Tour de France to support the Groupama-FDJ rider.

The Collective Ultras Pinot experienced an unforgettable day. Pierre, the president, has lost his voice after shouting to himself all day singing the songs. After the withdrawal of their champion, what will become of their collective? “It will be nothing: there is no Gaudu, no Molard, no Laporte. We need someone to make us dream, but no one will make us dream like Pinot. It’s over, we lived through its end with him.” concludes Guy Laurent.

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