Tour de France podium finisher Thibaut Pinot has said that he is heading to the Vuelta a España with no pressure, but also made clear that he has a very important goal in mind.
The Frenchman finished seventh overall last year and made further progress this season, taking third in the Tour de France. He was also the best young rider. While those performances were a good reward for his team’s backing of him, he feels he owes it and himself another success.
“I haven’t won a race this year yet. I don’t want to go for my winter break without raising my hands up in the air,” he stated. “Climbs are difficult in Spain. I like them. I want to win a stage.”
Prior to the Tour de France Pinot said that the Vuelta would be one of his top goals of the season.
“I’m looking forward to the Vuelta,” he stated then. “I just love this race. Shall I do well on GC here, I’ll be able to go to the Vuelta with no pressure and ride for a stage win and the King of the Mountain competition.”
Digging deep in the Tour to take a career-best result in that race has blunted his edge, but he is hoping that he settles in during the Vuelta and returns to something like the same form.
“One week ahead of the start at Jerez de la Frontera, I still feel the fatigue from the Tour de France,” he said. “I’ve had a two-week break. I went for a holiday and I rode three criteriums. On August 11, I resumed training but I don’t feel like I’m back in a good shape yet.
“I don’t know I’ll overcome the fatigue,” he admitted. “I hope that my team-mate [and last year’s winner at the Angliru] Kenny Elissonde will ride for GC. Or else Alexandre Geniez [a mountain stage winner at Peyragudes] could be the man.
“It would be something good for my team to focus on and it would make me free from handling the responsibilities. I want to ride for the fun of it.”
He’ll nevertheless chase that stage win target, knowing the Vuelta could give him a strong chance of taking that elusive first victory of the season.
The team will also include three-time Giro d’Italia stage winner Nacer Bouhanni, who hopes to add to his Grand Tour tally in Spain.