(Paris) See Bergamo and leave. Thibaut Pinot, idol of French cycling, pushes his last pedal strokes this week in Italy before hanging up his bike for good, leaving the mark of a rider like no other.
After taking the 36e place of the Tour d’Emilie on Saturday, the Groupama-FDJ climber will participate in the Coppa Bernocchi on Monday and Tuesday in the Trois Vallées Varésines as final preparation races for the Tour of Lombardy, the fifth Monument of the season and the last major meeting you of the year, Saturday between Como and Bergamo.
For the 33-year-old from Franc-Comtois, the classic of dead leaves constitutes the last meeting in short. And the race, a sublime slide in an enchanting setting, is the perfect place for your twilight.
Because Pinot is a lover of Italy and it was at the Tour of Lombardy that he achieved what he considers to be his greatest success – even before his three stage victories on the Tour de France – when he had beaten Vincenzo Nibali on his land in 2018.
“Lombardy will surely remain the greatest victory of my career. And it’s the best race of the year. So to finish there is great,” he said.
For his farewell, his Groupama-FDJ team prepared “a few little things”, according to manager Marc Madiot, while Matthieu Ladagnous, Pinot’s teammate, also pins his last bib on Monday after eighteen years in the house.
A “curva Pinot”
Supporters of Thibaut Pinot, gathered in particular within the Collectif Ultras Pinot, will make the trip on Saturday and will regroup in a “curva Pinot” as they did on the last Tour de France by installing a volcanic Pinot bend during the stage of the Vosges.
“I didn’t think it would be this strong at the Tour. Maybe it will be the same in Lombardy. I let myself be carried away by the present moment. It’s a page in the life of the team that is turning, an era that is ending,” underlines Marc Madiot, overwhelmed by emotion in July.
Long alone in the lead during his ecstatic “jubilee” in the Tour de France, Pinot risks having difficulty repeating the feat in Lombardy where competition will be tough with notably Remco Evenepoel, Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar who will aim for a third victory in a row in this mountainous classic.
Especially since the farewell tour of the Franc-Comtois was difficult this summer with an abandonment due to a fall at the Tour de Poitou-Charentes and an abandonment due to illness at the Tour du Luxembourg.
“It’s been complicated in recent weeks, I had a fall, then an intestinal virus which really weakened me. It’s hard to get back into shape, but I hope it will do it for the last week,” he said on Saturday at the start of the Tour d’Émilie.
From Sunday, Pinot will turn the page of 14 professional seasons for a future that he first sees far from cycling and the excitement of the peloton, to which he prefers the tranquility of his farm in Mélisey, in Haute-Saône.
He will leave the mark of a romantic climber, generous in effort and emotion, who will have marked his sport as much by his victories – 33 – as by his failures, in particular his heartbreaking abandonment in the 2019 Tour de France that he was well placed to win.