Two mountain stages, and two podiums so far for Thibaut Pinot on the 2020 Critérium du Dauphiné. After his second place at the top of the Col de Porte yesterday, the Groupama-FDJ’s leader took third on Friday in Saint-Martin-de-Belleville. Like yesterday, Primoz Roglic was the only GC contender to get the better of him, in the sprint, while Davide Formolo stormed the win thirty seconds before. Thibaut Pinot nevertheless secures his second place overall thanks to the time bonuses he collected again today.

“I suffered quite a bit from the heat”, Thibaut Pinot

An impressive climb was on the riders’ way on Friday, but because of its location at halfway point, the Col de la Madeleine (18 km at 8%) had little chance to play a decisive role in the third stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. Actually, a breakaway of nine riders created after an intense first hour of racing (50km/h average) was able to start the well-known climb in the lead and with a decent margin of four minutes. “There was a very strong start”, confirmed Thierry Bricaud. “It calmed down a bit as we approached the Madeleine and then the race started again. The weather was quite heavy and it was very hot. It was not easy to manage and with a good pace, it was a race of attrition. We didn’t really know if Jumbo-Visma would set a hard tempo in the Madeleine or if Ineos would want to test itself and make the race harder. We were ready just in case but, in the end, the scenario was the one we had imagined”.

Therefore, while Davide Formolo got away solo in the front of the race, aiming for the stage victory, the peloton was reduced from half in the first and penultimate climb of the day. As for Groupama-FDJ, Thibaut Pinot, Sébastien Reichenbach, Valentin Madouas but also Stefan Küng and Bruno Armirail were still there after the long descent of the Madeleine. Subsequently, Jumbo-Visma took responsibility of the chase and set a hard pace in the last climb leading to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville. The selection was therefore made from the back, but while Formolo got to enjoy a well-deserved victory, there were still a dozen of favourites all together at the one-kilometre banner. It all came down to the sprint and Primoz Roglic got the better of Thibaut Pinot for second place. “I did not have the best feelings today,” said the Frenchman. “I suffered quite a bit from the heat. So I’m happy with this third place. There was not much more I could do”.

“There will be a great fight this weekend”, Thierry Bricaud

Supported for a long time by Sébastien Reichenbach (20th) up front, the Groupama-FDJ’s leader still managed to grab four time bonuses seconds on the line. “He wasn’t feeling in a great day, but I think many would like to have a ‘’bad’’ day like he did”, added Thierry Bricaud. “He is in his prime. He knows himself perfectly and he knows how to manage days when he doesn’t feel that good. He knows the competition and knows what he is capable of. Today, he just decided to follow because he couldn’t do more and it was also going fast. Anyway, the slopes were not high enough to make real gaps. What matters is that he is in the mix and that he continues to work well. He is certainly on schedule”.

With two stages to go, Thibaut Pinot strengthened his second place overall behind Primoz Roglic, who now leads by 14 seconds. Still, a big weekend lies ahead. “Tomorrow, it will be tough from the start”, foresees Thierry Bricaud. “The start is difficult and so is the entire day. The fight might start quickly and it could be overwhelming for everyone. It is not over. The gaps are certainly tight, but some riders will necessarily take risks on the last weekend. We must also not forget that there is a small war between some teams in order to establish their territory before the Tour. There will be a great fight, that’s for sure”. As a conclusion, the team’s leader agreed with his sports director: “On Saturday and Sunday, they are two beautiful, well-designed stages with well-located climbs. Some will try things to shake up the GC. I think it can be a lively weekend with some nice surprises. I want to join in the fight, but in order to do that, you need to have good legs. I did yesterday, a bit less today. We’ll see how it goes this weekend”.

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