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Thibaut Pinot, an inspiration to us all

Stage 4 of the Tour of the Alps was representative of everything that defines Thibaut Pinot

Robyn Davidson
21 Apr 2022

There are moments in cycling that cause even the most unbiased to change their unshakable beliefs. To furrow their brow at the polarising forces within them, to question their objectivity and just… believe.

There are performances from riders that physically tug on your heartstrings. None more so than those of Thibaut Pinot.

How do I begin to describe what Pinot means to the cycling community? He is a figure of both heartbreak and happiness, of belief and of underdog status.

Much has been said about the Frenchman, who has repeatedly had the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, thrust into a spotlight shone by those wishing for their next French Tour de France champion.

Pinot found himself expected to fill shoes that others laid out for him – cycling fans and journalists alike.


It’s perhaps his humanity that most draws us to support Groupama-FDJ’s rider. We’ve been there to witness such personal moments, like when he confessed to a phobia of speed, which hampered his chances at his home Grand Tour in 2013.

He revealed uncertainty about ‘getting over’ the trauma, taking to downhill skiing in the off season to help improve his chances.

We willed the TV cameras to cut away from his sobbing figure at the Tour in 2019. The man who so often represented a country’s dreams found solace in the arms of teammate William Bonnet and climbed into the team car, abandoning through injury.

It is in these moments that a person’s character is tested, and Pinot continually came back in the face of adversity and repeated issues with his back. His character is one of resurgence, rooted in likability.

He is mortal. He is us.

It’s not all torturous. Off the bike, he can be found at his Mélisey farm posing for photos next to donkeys or kneeling on the ground as goats clamber onto his shoulders.

Thibaut Pinot attacks during stage four at the Tour of the Alps. Photo: Tim de Waele via Getty

On the bike, he is currently competing in the Tour of the Alps. He attacked from the breakaway with 10km remaining on Stage 4, a solo effort with the peloton almost a minute behind but closing in fast.

Rob Hatch narrated his struggles, saying ‘there won’t be a single professional cycling fan who isn’t willing on Thibaut Pinot’.

Adam Blythe ushered encouragement through the airwaves. ‘Come on Thibaut!’

It had been over 1,000 days since Pinot’s last victory. The ambition was there. Unfortunately, the time advantage was not. You can always sense hope failing as a rider turns his head backwards, aware of impending heartbreak.

Once, twice, three times.

Pinot pushed himself forward with everything he had left. He began to weave from the exertion, his attempts to lift himself out of the saddle and drain every last bit of energy from his body broadcast to us all.

Stage 4 was representative of everything that defines Thibaut Pinot. Trying, even in the face of defeat. Trying, even though Miguel Ángel López bridged the gap. Trying, even when Astana’s ‘Superman’ passed him for victory.

Pinot reacts after finishing in second place. Photo: Tim de Waele via Getty

As Rob Hatch said; ‘He’s made us fall in love with his riding again today… Thibaut Pinot… this is why we love watching this man.’

And it’s true. This is why we love Thibaut Pinot.

Photo: Thibaut Pinot via Instagram

Thibaut Pinot never gives up. He allows others to see his mortality. He may not have been victorious today, but he is victorious in life.

Main image: Tim de Waele via Getty

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