Pinot's Tour hopes boosted by FDJ's time trial improvements

Wed May 4, 2016 7:46am EDT
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - French riders' chances of winning the Tour de France have long been hampered by their inability to perform in time trials, but Thibaut Pinot's FDJ team have changed their approach and the youngster may now be ready to take on the best against the clock.

The 25-year-old, third overall in the 2014 Tour and winner of the prestigious Alpe d'Huez stage last year, beat specialists Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome in last week's individual time trial at the Tour de Romandie, in which he finished second overall behind Nairo Quintana.

"We did not have the culture of time trialing in France," FDJ head of performance Frederic Grappe told Reuters on Tuesday.

While Germany or Switzerland have a time-trialing culture, France has won only one world title, with Laurent Jalabert back in 1997.

"We've had a big problem with that for decades now, and it starts with the young riders," Grappe added. "Some under-18 riders arrive at the world championships having never ridden the distance. Time trialing is a matter of culture, muscles and material."

FDJ has changed the way its teams work with their suppliers.

"What teams used to do is take the material they were provided and just shut up," he explained. "Now we start from scratch (with French bike maker Lapierre) and both ask ourselves how we can do better."

FDJ have hired the services of consultants who helped them develop a state-of-the-art TT bike, the Aerostorm DRS (Drag Reduction System).   Continued...

FDJ rider Thibaut Pinot of France reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the 110.5-km (68.6 miles) 20th stage of the 102nd Tour de France cycling race from Modane to Alpe d'Huez in the French Alps mountains, France, July 25, 2015. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini