Thibaut Pinot, an inspiration for all of us
There are times in cycling that cause even the most unbiased to change their steadfast beliefs. To frown at the polarizing forces within them, to question their objectivity and just…believe.
There are performances from runners that physically tug at your heartstrings. None more than those of Thibaut Pinot.
How can I begin to describe what Pinot means to the cycling community? He is a figure of both grief and happiness, belief and underdog status.
Much has been said about the Frenchman, who has repeatedly had the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, thrust into the spotlight by those who want their next Tour de France champion of France.
Pinot found himself supposed to fill shoes that others had prepared for him – cycling fans and journalists.
It is perhaps his humanity that pushes us the most to support the Groupama-FDJ rider. We’ve been there to witness such personal moments, like when he confessed to a speed phobia, which hampered his chances on his home Grand Tour in 2013.
He revealed his uncertainty about ‘overcoming’ the trauma, taking up off-season downhill skiing to help improve his chances.
We wanted the TV cameras to cut his sobbing figure during the Tour in 2019. The man who has so often represented a country’s dreams found solace in the arms of teammate William Bonnet and got into the car of the team, giving up on injury.
It is in these moments that a person’s character is tested, and Pinot would continually come back in the face of adversity and repeated back problems. Its character is that of a resurgence, rooted in sympathy.
He is mortal. He is us.
All is not tortuous. Off the bike, we find him on his farm in Mélisey posing for photos next to donkeys or kneeling on the ground while goats climb on his shoulders.
Thibaut Pinot attacks during the fourth stage of the Tour des Alpes. Photo: Tim de Waele via Getty
By bike, he is currently taking part in the Tour of the Alps. He attacked from the breakaway 10km from the end of Stage 4, a solo effort with the peloton almost a minute behind but closing fast.
Rob Hatch recounted his struggles saying “there will not be a single professional cycling fan who will not agree with Thibaut Pinot”.
Adam Blythe threw cheers on 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 feel hope fail when a horseman turns his head back, aware of impending grief.
Once, twice, three times.
Pinot came forward with all 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. Tryingeven in the face of defeat. Tryingalthough Miguel Ángel López closed the gap. Tryingeven when Astana is ‘Superman‘ passed him for the win.
Pinot reacts after finishing in second place. Photo: Tim de Waele via Getty
As Rob Hatch said; “He made us fall in love with his horse again today… Thibaut Pinot… that’s why we love watching this man.
And that’s true. That’s why we love Thibaut Pinot.
Photo: Thibaut Pinot on 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