Thibaut Pinot ahead of the fourth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Thibaut Pinot: ‘I give my morale a nine out of 10 at the moment’

The 31-year-old Frenchman is optimistic after Tirreno-Adriatico.

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After two frustrating seasons, Thibaut Pinot is hoping to right the ship in 2022. As the 31-year-old Frenchman told L’Equipe in a story published Monday, things are looking up for him following a Tirreno-Adriatico that left him with a renewed sense of optimism for what’s to come.

“I give my morale a nine out of 10 at the moment,” Pinot told L’Equipe. “I’ve waited so long to ride between the leaders again, so as not to have to ride in a grupetto 10 or 15 minutes behind. I don’t want to experience that feeling again.”

Back in 2019, Pinot made it deep into the Tour de France as a contender for the overall victory. At one point late in the race, he even enjoyed the shortest odds of anyone in the field to take the win. While in striking distance of the podium, however, he suffered a torn thigh muscle, and abandoned the race on stage 19 — and since then, things haven’t really gone his way. Pinot crashed on the opening stage of the 2020 Tour, and although he finished the race, he was left was back issues that persisted through to the following season.

A handful of decent showings at races late in 2021 suggested that things were headed in the right direction for Pinot. Although his first few racing appearances of 2022 did not go according to plan, with Pinot saying that he “reacted very badly” to being vaccinated at the start of the year, Pinot was able to put up a respectable result at Tirreno-Adriatico, where he rode to eighth overall.

Finishing seventh on the queen stage, which made two trips up the challenging Monte Carpegna, was a strong sign for Pinot.

“At the first pass of the Monte Carpegna, I looked behind me, and only 20 riders were still hanging on. I didn’t understand why the others had to drop back,” Pinot said. “It’s because the good feeling was there. I hadn’t felt this good since the Dauphiné of 2020.”

With his Tirreno result providing him with “confidence and serenity for the rest of the season,” Pinot will look continue working his way back into the conversation as a major contender. Next up on his provisional program are several weeklong stage races: the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe, the Tour du Jura, the Tour of the Alps, and the Tour de Romandie. Then he’ll have a short break before heading to the Tour de Suisse, with the Tour de France expected to follow in what will mark a long-awaited return to three-week racing, as Pinot did not race a Grand Tour last year.

Challenging defending Tour champ Tadej Pogačar – who finished 3:37 ahead of Pinot at Tirreno-Adriatico – will be a tall order, but being in the mix at all will be a welcome change for Pinot. As he put it, “Following Pogačar, I think, it’s impossible for me but finishing with the others, there’s no problem.”

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