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"My goal today was to take the white jersey and gain time over my adversaries, namely Alejandro Valverde and Romain Bardet. I felt great. I had my best legs at the Tour so far, so I had to take profit from it."

Photo: Sirotti








22.07.2014 @ 20:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Thibaut Pinot finished off a splendid team effort by FDJ by gaining time on both Tejay van Garderen and Romain Bardet, move into third and take the white jersey for best young rider. Having had his best legs yet, the Frenchman now hopes that he will be able to move into second in the upcoming stages.


At the service of Thibaut Pinot in the climb to Port de Bales, Arnold Jeannesson helped his leader seize the third place overall and the white jersey for the best young rider. He then handed the baton to Jeremy Roy, gone in the day's break, who waited for his leader in the descent to escort him to the finish line.


“It's a fantastic day," Pinot said. "My goal today was to take the white jersey and gain time over my adversaries, namely Alejandro Valverde and Romain Bardet. I felt great. I had my best legs at the Tour so far, so I had to take profit from it.


"I wanted to try something. I've wanted to accelerate up to the Port de Balès when I've realized I could drop Van Garderen and Bardet off. Team work has been great. For instance, having Jérémy Roy on my side after he stepped down from the breakaway was precious. It was the plan that I'd do the downhill with him.


"In the fight for the white jersey, I've gained 1.30 over Bardet and I'm stronger than him in time trialing in theory. But I have to stay calm because a bad day is always possible at the Tour. I have to gain more time over Valverde and Van Garderen.


"The second place overall seems reachable. But it won't be easy to make Valverde crack. He never loses much time. Péraud is maybe even more of a threat as he's a true specialist of time trialing.


"I achieved a great result today. I managed to beat my opponents on a hard climb. The white jersey is the reward for me and my teammates. They were amazing today, I received a lot of support. 


"I did not think Arnold would be so strong, he was the strongest of the climb and Jeremy did a great job on the descent. It was perfect. 


"I am confident and serene, I have good legs and tomorrow I hope I will be good in the hardest stage of the Tour. Now we must continue to be offensive to gain time on my rivals. In the Tour, I can always have a bad day and so we must remain calm. 


"Now I am third but for me it will not be until Saturday night after the 55km TT that I know where I am. I still have to gain time om Van Garderen and Péraud.


"Today it was expected that I would attack my rivals on the climb. I knew Bardet and Van Garderen had been dropped but I did not focus on them. I made my race. The timing was right at the moment. The white shirt goes well with the blue of but Péraud is strong and remains a candidate for the podium.


"Tomorrow will be hard, I did a recon of this stage in May. The 10km climb to the finish inn Pla d'Adet is really steep, I was impressed by it. There will be big gaps and I will be careful to watch attacks from riders placed between the fifth and tenth place."


"I was in reserve in the previous massifs. We knew that in the Pyrenees there were tricky descents and Thibaut needed a team-mate", Jeannesson said. "We did a good job. Of course we had not planned everything but it just came naturally. Thibaut Pinot had good legs, Jeremy and I too. Thibaut attacked on the climb but not only because of the descent. He is not bad but he always takes a safety margin. It's easier for him when there are ten riders and not twenty.


"This day is a good omen for the rest of the Pyrenees. Thibaut scored gained time on his rivals. We could not have hoped for a better outcome but it is not over yet. The second place is achievable. Otherwise, a podium that will be fine too.


"We're going to try everything to keep this overall placing and also the white jersey. It's not over. There's also a time trial. If we can take more time, we're going to try everyday.


"Jeremy's move was planned. He took the baton from me in the descent. It went ideally, it was perfectly executed. They tried to attack him a bit in the descent but Tibaut proved he was as good as they are. With summit finishes in the next few days, I hope he's going to prove what he already showed today."  


Jeremy Roy also explained the role he played in the FDJ plan:


"We had a right to go into the breaks if they were well manned, and that's what I did. The circumstances dictated that I wait in the descent. I stopped, there was a spectator with a radio who told me: Van Garderen out, Bardet out, Valverde out. I said: there won't be many left at the top! It's the first time I stop to wait for a leader but it was worth it.


"I'm really happy for him. It's huge for Thibaut. To be on the provisional podium is great andwe will try to defend it tooth and nail. There are two summit finishes, it will be a big, big fight. Tomorrow is a relatively short, step climb and those who have been left behind like Bardet and Van Garderen will definitely go on the offensive."


"It is going well but we are not yet there," manager Marc Madiot warned. "Difficult days remain, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Today we did well. All our riders were good in the flat part and then Arnold took over on the climb and Jeremy on the descent. Even in our best plans, we could not have performed like this. It is a succes but it also requires a great rider. He puts everyone at ease. 


"We do not usually play the leading roles in the grand tours. We have only done so occasionally. We started it two years ago with Thibaut. In the 2013 Vuelta we were not bad. We now master the sprints and we will try to make progress in the mountains as well. At home we have Kenny Elissonde and Alexandre Géniez that are gifted climbers. We have what it takes to be there in the future.


"I am not surprised by Thibaut and now he just needs to keep it up in the next two stages. This day is a sign of what awaits us. We have come a long way but nothing is certain in cycling. We are satisfied but we must stay focused and not fall into euphoria. We are already making plans for tomorrow. The podium would be a fantastic achievement."



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