Cycling. "Cycling is not really an exact science! "

Soon 29, Thibaut Pinot, leader of the Groupama-FDJ team, is already in his tenth pro season, which began last Thursday at the Tour de la Provence, which he finished yesterday in 4th place two seconds behind the final winner. , the Spanish Izagirre (Astana). A first round to be located in X the prospect of the Tour de France, where the tricolor climber hopes to reconnect with the podium like in 2014. But, true to his character who does not bring it back, he remains very measured when displaying his ambitions.

To put a bib in competition for a beginning of season, it is always a particular moment?

Thibaut Pinot For me, who always finds the winter long enough, it is indeed rather good sign to hang this first bib in the race, because it also means that we go to spring!

When we have finished the last season like you, raising your arms in the Tour of Lombardy, the idea is obviously to stay on the same dynamic?

Thibaut Pinot Yes, I have only one desire this season, it is to taste a maximum to the joys of the victory, which are very strong, especially when you impose yourself on a monument of the bike like the Tour of Lombardy.

The fact that you started your season at the Tour de la Provence, is it also a way to defend the French races, which have suffered in recent years from the globalization of cycling?

Thibaut Pinot It is true that often, in recent years, I resumed my seasons abroad, in Spain for example, and I finally failed to take over the races of the beginning of the season in France, because there is a lot of beautiful routes on the calendar and because our cycling roots are here in France. So, a race like the Tour de la Provence, it was the ideal for a recovery with a mix between a fairly hilly course and a time trial that allows you to immediately position yourself in relation to the competition.

This "return of cycles" in Provence, it was also a way to calibrate your Groupama-FDJ team, which seems armed for the Tour de France?

Thibaut Pinot Yes, this year we have a very strong team, very homogeneous because, with David Gaudu, Sebastien Reichenbach, Rudy Molard, we are really well equipped with climbers. On the Tour de la Provence, we were able to break in a little more together hoping to meet again on the Tour de France to the maximum of our respective possibilities.

Everyone expects a lot from you on the Tour …

Thibaut Pinot (He cuts.) Of course I'll hear about it before July because it's been a while now that I did not go on the Tour (it remains on two abandons and a package – Ed) with real ambitions , among others because I had privileged the Giro. But it does not bother me more than that. There, I left on the objective of the Tour with the desire to do the best possible and why not find the podium, as in 2014.

Your manager – Marc Madiot – presents you as a "new man" after your 2018 season and the boss of the FDJ, sponsor of your team, announces that you must be on the podium …

Thibaut Pinot Yes … but there are still speeches and, beside these speeches, there is the reality of high level sport. Cycling is not an exact science! What will count on the next Tour, is to give the maximum and not to have regrets in the end, once arrived in Paris. I know how the Tour is, it's a test that does not forgive anything. We live in a sport that is very difficult, where the smallest grain of sand in the machine can disrupt everything. I remain cautious because I know that everything can go wrong very quickly: I have had enough health problems in recent seasons to know what I am talking about.

Leader of the Groupama-FDJ team