Although he’s had to share the attention, today was indeed his day on the Tour de France. Thibaut Pinot had been looking forward to La Planche des Belles Filles’ time trial for almost a year. He certainly did not regret getting there, and the efforts since his crash on the first day proved to be worth doing. On his training roads, the Frenchman enjoyed an enormous support throughout the course, which he actually completed in 19th position. It enabled him to end this Tour on a positive note before the official finish tomorrow on the Champs Élysées.
“I was in my own world”, Thibaut Pinot
The Haute-Saône department and the village of Mélisey were just waiting for him. The party had been set up for several weeks in Thibaut Pinot’s hometown, at the bottom of the Planche des Belles Filles, which hosted the final and decisive time trial of this year’s Tour de France. The public would certainly have hoped to see the local boy get to the start of the time trial in other circumstances, but in spite of it all, the crowd did gather at the side of the roads to see, support and comfort Thibaut Pinot. Starting at 4.16pm, the Frenchman was the third rider from the team to face the time trial. After his start, an hour and 36.5 kilometers of madness occurred between Lure and La Planche des Belles Filles .
“I had Goosebumps, a lot,” Thibaut smiled at the finish, after setting the provisional sixth time. “It was amazing! There were many, many people. I did not expect that. When I was riding 50 km/h in Melisey and the crowd would open up in front of me, it was a little scary, but it was so good! The support I received today was amazing, and I realized it while riding. Sometimes I was even completely lost, I felt like I was somewhere else, in my own world, and it was good to experience. I don’t know if I will have the opportunity to relive such emotions in my career, but anyway, they are now etched in my memory. I think there won’t be a time trial in my village every year, and that’s why I had to savour it today. In terms of physical feelings, it was okay. I enjoyed the time trial even though my legs hurt. I gave everything. It’s a time trial that I could have liked if I were the top of my game”.
“Thibaut made a point of doing a good job”, Philippe Mauduit
Sited in the following car with the other local boy Julien Pinot, Philippe Mauduit was able to capture the excitement around the Groupama-FDJ’s leader. “Julien and Thibaut were properly at home today, and it must have been very special for them,” he noted. “The public was obviously committed to Thibaut. The crowd came to see him and to support him, and that we could feel it extremely well thanks to the atmosphere on the side of the road. When you get to home soil, you always want to give your best. Although he is far from his best potential and his best condition, Thibaut has made a point of doing a good job. Today’s top 20 is still not to be remembered compared to his ambitions at the start of the Tour, but also compared to what he experienced today”.
The time trial also offered a hell of a turnaround on Saturday, as Tadej Pogacar knocked down his Slovenian compatriot Primoz Roglic from his leader’s seat, also winning the white and polka dot jerseys of the Tour de France. This 107th edition will come to an end tomorrow, as usual on the Champs Élysées, in Paris. “They forecast rain, warns Philippe, so it can be very dangerous in the final. If the cobbles stay dry, the guys will have the freedom to go have a good time, be in the breakaway and take a shot in the final. If the cobbles are wet, however, we will not give them bad ideas. This is certainly not the stage where you have to take risks.”