Tour de France Round up: Thibaut Pinot amongst the best again
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tour de France Round up: Thibaut Pinot amongst the best again

by Kyle Moore at 11:05 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Chris Anker Sorensen and Saxo Bank proud of effort on stage 11

Thibaut PinotWhen Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat) broke away to win stage eight of the Tour de France, he had his director sportif Marc Madiot alongside him in the final kilometer, shouting with all he had from the team car.

On the decisive climbs of stage eleven, the Croix de Fer and La Toussuire, Pinot heard nothing except the support at the roadsides and his own thoughts. The youngest rider in the Tour de France rode the majority of the stage with a malfunctioning race radio, though this did not slow down the Frenchman, who produced another stunning ride.

Pinot was with the yellow jersey group throughout the stage, even attacking once on the final climb with Jurgen Van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol). He couldn’t get away from race leader Bradley Wiggins and Sky Procycling, but he did outsprint Chris Froome for second place on the stage, behind Pierre Rolland (Europcar).

Madiot was complimentary, if a bit more reserved, after stage eleven.

“Today we did exactly what we wanted to do,” Madiot stated. “We wanted Thibaut to give his best to see what he could do. He did it, and now we know better who he is!”

Pinot was a late call-up to the race, replacing Arnold Jeannesson, who dropped out with an injury. Currently in 10th overall, Madiot wouldn’t speculate on where Pinot may be at the end of the race, saying, “It is still a long Tour.”

“Thibaut attacked before the summit of the Col de Mollard to take the descent quietly, not to get a gap,” Madiot explained. “Then he [moved] when Van den Broeck attacked. In the end, they were only six ‘big dogs’ and he was there. And he still had the energy to sprint for the finish, passing Froome and moving into second place.

“During this stage, he had not spoken because his radio was not working. At the foot of La Toussuire he was given a bottle and we saw that he had a good face.”

Pinot himself still sounds calm and collected in the face of a top ten finish in Paris.

"I am in great shape. I even think I'm at peak form,” Pinot admitted. “This was a short stage that suited me and La Toussuire is a hill that I really like. It was a great stage. Frenchmen were first and second, so that’s a great day.”

Chris Anker Sorensen battles and battles and battles

Though he wasn’t able to pull in a top result, taking seventh on stage eleven, Chris Anker Sorensen and his Saxo Bank team were proud of his effort out of the breakaway. Sorensen was one of the last surviving men to contest the win on La Toussuire, eventually taken by Rolland.

Even before the final climb, Sorensen was dropped at least three separate times, as the initial big breakaway was whittled down gradually. Each time he was able to reattach, then was part of a four-man group that hit the bottom of the final climb at the front. Rolland and Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) put in a series of little digs on the lower slopes, with Sorensen unable to counter right away, but clawing his way back gradually each time.

Ultimately he would lose the wheel of Rolland, and was agonizingly pulled in by the yellow jersey group within sight of the finish line.

“I’m actually pretty annoyed by being caught on the finish line after having been fighting out there on my own throughout the day, but that’s part of the game,” Sorensen concluded afterward. “However, I’m proud of my effort. On the final climb, I was clearly the weakest in our quartet but I was riding wisely by staying on the wheel of the other guys and waiting for them to tire out. Rolland was the strongest of all of us and beat us fair and square.

“I’ve never dug so deep within myself during any race before, and Bjarne [Riis] kept motivating me the whole day, and it turned out to be working. Now the legs are to decide what will happen tomorrow.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone fight the way Chris did throughout the stage,” team director Nick Gates lauded. “It really shows how much heart Chris is putting into his ambitions and how intensely courageous this guy is. Unfortunately he finished seventh, and he deserved so much more today.”

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