The off-season works in mysterious ways. Some cyclists lose themselves in beer and bacchanalian excess. Others swim with dolphins. Entire teams disappear to the Formula 1 tracks of the Middle East to drive fast cars in circles.
Thibaut Pinot, French cycling’s second-greatest heart-throb, does not concern himself with these fleeting thrills. Thibaut Pinot and his partner, Charlotte Patat, have bought a new cow.
I say ‘a new cow’, but that doesn’t do it justice, really. Firstly, because it’s an inaccurate statement – Pinot and Patat have bought two new cows (one brown, one cream). Secondly, because ‘cow’ doesn’t really conjure the magnificence of what we see here.
Observe the brown one. It is small, and has big liquid eyes. It is the most gentle, soft-looking creature that nature can conjure. It has a gentle, inquisitive snout, a daring hairstyle, and a certain fire burning in its eyes.
Now to the cream one. It is like the brown one, but it is cream, and it does not have a ponytail sprouting from its forehead. For this reason it is the lesser of the two cows, but that can be fixed with a scrunchie.
Thibaut Pinot’s two cows do not exist in a vacuum. The cows’ internet debut comes via the Instagram account of one of Pinot’s goats, Kim. He has at least one more goat – Quentine – as well as at least four (4) donkeys, a sheep, multiple chickens – including a Sussex hen called Chanel – and even more cows.
Pinot’s wholesome rustic existence has not gone unnoticed by the world. Since at least 2017, he has been the most renowned pet owner in modern cycling. Heck, his goats even have merch.
But the Frenchman’s grip on the ‘best pro/pet owner’ throne has increasingly come under attack from younger, hungrier rivals.
Filippo Ganna’s rise to the top of pro cycling has brought with it his excellent sheepdog, Mia, who made a cameo at the 2021 Giro d’Italia wearing pink ribbons and was frankly the best thing that happened all race.
Egan Bernal, winner of that same race, has in a few short years gone from a naive 22-year-old Tour de France winner to an old soul. In a post-Giro press conference, he wistfully detailed how he “mainly think[s] about a life at home with my animals: my three dogs, a cow and the chickens. Together with my girlfriend and my family. I really don’t need that much to be happy. Happiness is in the small things, certainly not in the material things.”
As recently as yesterday, Bernal was wearing very little material and training a German Shepherd, and he certainly looked happy, so I believe him.
By our reckoning, Pinot’s new cows have reestablished his position as pro cycling’s premier pet owner, but if Bernal, Ganna et al have shown us anything, it’s that this is a fickle game. Benoit Cosnefroy could roll in with a llama tomorrow and then where would we be?
Until then, we hope that Thibaut Pinot and his new cows have a happy, wholesome future. They are, collectively and individually, very good indeed.