Thibaut Pinot is no longer concerned about the high expectations in France for the Tour de France. The leader of Groupama-FDJ is the hope in frightened days for the country, which in 1985 with Bernard Hinault delivered the last final winner from home.
"Since 2014 they have been repeating that it is now or never for the French. Now I accept that with a smile", Pinot said at a press conference in the run-up to the 107th edition of the Tour de France. The Frenchman finished third in the Tour in 2014, still his best performance ever in the biggest race of the year.
"The most negative pressure I felt since then was the pressure I put on myself. I have come to manage it much better than in previous years. The experience has calmed me down. I am now thirty years old."
Pinot seemed to be able to make a bid for the overall victory in the Tour de France last year, but in the nineteenth stage, the then number five of the general classification stepped down with a mysterious thigh injury. The Frenchman was injured after bumping his leg hard on his steering wheel.
"I am mentally stronger, that's for sure. Compared to last year I feel much calmer and I experience less pressure. I think it is good not to waste energy on stress. I am calm and above all motivated. What made me last year. Can't get much worse. That injury certainly hardened me. I'm very confident. "
Thibaut Pinot waves to the French people during Thursday's team performance in Nice. (Photo: Pro Shots)
'Have nothing to fear from INEOS and Jumbo-Visma'
Pinot, who is aiming for a podium place in the Tour, thinks that Groupama-FDJ can compete with Team INEOS and Jumbo-Visma, who have the big favorites for the final classification with Egan Bernal and Primoz Roglic respectively.
"We are right behind them. Whether in the mountains or on the flat, we have nothing to fear from them. We capitalize on our strengths and do not have the responsibility to make up gaps and lead the pursuit." We have to be at the top in the third week, then there are opportunities to attack.
The Tour de France starts on Saturday with a sprinter stage over 156 kilometers that starts and ends in Nice. The finish is on September 20 on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
See also: List of participants Tour de France: These 176 riders will start
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