Europe 1 with AFP 22:39 p.m., March 22, 2023

On the sidelines of a day of cycling in Franche-Comté, Frenchman Thibaut Pinot returned to the end of his career. A professional sports retirement that the cyclist will take in a few months, but that he hopes to close with the public at his side on the occasion of his last races.

"Let the audience still vibrate a little with me." Cyclist Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), on the occasion of a day on the roads of his region, told Wednesday the feelings that accompany him in the last season of his career. "I have more lightness at the start of the races, I try to enjoy a little more and put less constraints on myself in the profession of cyclist," Thibaut Pinot explained to several media.

The 32-year-old climber became an ambassador for the Classic Grand Besançon Doubs and the Tour du Jura on Wednesday. Two one-day races, associated with the Tour du Doubs, for a Franc-Comtois triptych on 14, 15 and 16 April, on roads he came to spot. After losing his sprint to the sign against little Leo, among the fifteen young people of Jura cycling who escorted him a few kilometers from the stars in his eyes, the climber offered himself in the morning a solitary ascent of Mont Poupet, which dominates the Jura city of Salins-les-Bains.

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"Good preparation"

The three hill finishes in three days of racing will offer the 3rd of the Tour de France 2014 his favorite profiles, and a "good preparation for the Giro d'Italia" (6-28 May), on his program after the Tour de Romandie (25-30 April). Surrounded by young local runners all day, he enjoys "these important moments as a professional, very pleasant."

"I rode with six-year-old children this morning, that's the age at which I started, it brought back memories," he smiled after reaching the village of Montfaucon (Doubs) at the end of the day by the dreaded Côte de la Malate. A bump that he skimmed with his teammate Arthur Vichot during his formative years in Besançon.

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"My start to the season is good," he said after 17 days of racing in France (Etoile de Bessèges, Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var) and Italy (Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico) for a few places of honour. "I hope to slam a stage of the Giro, any stage," he says of his heart race, before fighting for selection for a final Tour de France, where he has already won three stages (2012, 2015 and 2019). "I feel like this is my last season, people remind me of that a lot. The only thing I can do to thank them is to make the best possible results. Trying to have a very good season until the Tour of Lombardy, that the public will still vibrate a little with me."

After a beautiful day under the sun responding to photo requests, could this popular runner, recognized and encouraged by his passage in the villages, reconsider his decision and extend the pleasure beyond 2023? "No, I don't want to do the year too much, it's always been my anxiety, to finish as I don't want to, on an injury or whatever. There I decided to give everything I have to finish the season well and have no regrets." "I wanted to announce it early on. I'd rather talk about it now than lie and announce it in September. I'm serene with that," he says before leaving alone, in the descent.