Thibaut Pinot enthuses Groupama-FDJ one last time on the Grande Boucle

Thibaut Pinot played for the stage win between Belfort and Le Markstein Fellering on Saturday, to greet the mountains of the Tour de France in the most beautiful way.

The trembling voice, then a few sobs. For Thibaut Pinot as for his manager Marc Madiot, the emotion was at its peak, on Saturday 22 July, upon the arrival in Markstein, for the last mountain stage of the Franche-Comté rider in the Tour de France. An emotion tinged with pride for all his team, which vibrated and believed in the victory of the future retiree, leading for several kilometres.

There was a swarm of reporters around the Groupama-FDJ bus on Saturday evening usually reserved for the winning team. The crowd gave the impression that Thibaut Pinot had won at the Markstein. He didn’t raise his arms in victory, but he was the hero of the day. Within the collective the atmosphere was serene, but full of emotions after this new episode in Pinot’s career, far from the exuberance of a success.

“When we get to the end of the road, let’s remember who the man behind the champion is, and I wish all my colleagues to get to know Thibaut Pinot, summarizes, in tears, Marc Madiot. He’s a nice guy who deserves to be known. It hasn’t always been easy, I think he turned my hair gray, but in the end it’s not the prize money that makes the difference. Winners are lines on a piece of paper, Thibaut will leave more, thrills, things you think will never happen and that come with him”.

An acquired twist to his cause

The “Thibaut Pinot bend”, located two kilometers from the top of the Petit Ballon, where his ultra supporters met, went crazy. The idol, who took the lead, divided the crowd under the encouragement whose decibel peaks were to reach heights worthy of the summit of the Tourmalet, where he signed his biggest Tour victory, in 2019.

“It was like a stadium below, it looked like they were celebrating a goal, describes Benoît Drujon, assistant of Groupama-FDJ, who provided supplies in the 20th stage. It was so loud that he didn’t hear the information in the earpiece to let him know there were cans available, and he reached too late.”.

After passing the corner a few minutes earlier, in a car with the team logo, Sébastien Joly lived “madness, as the young say”. “I’ve never tried it on a bike, I’ve never seen an audience so far away in a pass, not even in the Tour de France”adds Quentin Pacher, Thibaut Pinot’s teammate. “They did it big, we had a lot of fun”exults Valentin Madouas, long in front with the Franc-Comtois.

A pleasure that Warren Barguil, who was also on the run, didn’t want to deprive the Groupama-FDJ rider. “I played well with (Tom) Pidcock, not to raise him too much, to avoid running into Thibaut. I didn’t want to pass for the guy who brings Pidcock back and beats two Frenchmen to the finish”, justified the Arkéa-Samsic team rider. If the Breton did not insist on chasing his compatriot, the UAE Team-Emirates team took care of it, aiming for the stage win, and Thibaut Pinot was unable to follow him.

Thibaut Pinot speaks at the end of this twentieth stage.  The Franc-Comtois, full of emotions, looks back on this crazy day at the front and says goodbye to the Tour de France.  For this final mountain stage, the Frenchman finished 7th.

“I lacked some legs to cling to the group of the best. But the important thing for me was elsewhere, I had fun, it was just happiness, Thibaut Pinot reacted at the end of the stage, before bursting into tears. Hearts will sink on the podium, especially since I’m at home. I didn’t think it would have that effect on me, I thought it would be at the Giro di Lombardia that my heart would be heavy, but I feel it’s a page in my story that ends tonight. He’s stronger than I thought”.

Voted most combative of the day, the Groupama-FDJ rider could reach the podium in Paris on Sunday if he is elected super combative in the Tour de France, and if he manages to descend from the summit of Markstein, where he struggled to climb two meters without being stopped by the public.

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