Thibaut Pinot celebrated his 33rd birthday in Rome the day after finishing the Giro d’Italia, celebrating his fifth place overall and his blue mountains jersey in what could be the last Grand Tour of his career.
However, David Gaudu and sprinter Arnaud Démare are expected to lead Groupama-FDJ’s Tour de France squad in July. Gaudu was fourth overall in 2022 and will again target the general classification, leaving little room for Pinot and his emotional Grand Boucle.
Team manager Marc Madiot faces a difficult decision.
“I want to be at the Tour,” Pinot told Eurosport on Sunday, staking his claim and only making Madiot’s decision more difficult. “I hope I’ll get an answer about it all quickly. With the legs I have and with this top five in the Giro, I’ve proven what I can do. I am motivated, I want to help the team, so I want to be there.
“Saying that, the decision is not up to me. but if it’s yes or no, I hope to know quickly so that I can focus on the rest of the season,” Pinot added.
Pinot has often been left tormented by his racing and results, turning the Tour de France into an odyssey of frustration. In contrast he loves racing in Italy and is inspired by the racing and the warmth of the tifosi.
Pinot finished twice on mountain stages to Crans Montana and then Val di Zoldo but scored enough points to win the blue king of the mountains jersey and so got to savour a moment in the spotlight on the final podium in Rome. He was joined by his Groupama-FDJ teammates, who won the fair play award for accruing the least penalties and fines during the Giro d’Italia. Bruno Armirail also wore the maglia rosa for two days.
It was only Pinot’s second Grand Tour jersey, after the best young rider’s white jersey at the 2014 Tour de France, which put so much hope and expectation on his shoulders and perhaps lead him to prefer Italy and the Giro d’Italia over racing in France.
“The objective of the start of this Giro was a stage victory, that’s for sure, but I also came to do a good general classification and fight with the best. The blue jersey for best climber is the icing on the cake,” Pinot explained.
“The last image people had of me on the Giro was my abandon the day before the finish in Rome in 2018. I came here to finish my story with the Giro on a high, and I finished it as best I could. Physically, it might be the Grand Tour I finish in the best way. It shows that I still have something left in my legs!
“My Giro is really a point of pride. I would have liked to be on the final podium of the Giro because it’d be something exceptional but this is my story. The Giro is a bit of a paradox of my career: my defeats were often more beautiful than my victories. What I’ll remember is that I really tried my best and enjoyed it all. For me, the Giro remains the best race of my life.”