Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), a serious contender for overall victory in the Vuelta a Espana, decided to take the race in his own hands. He decided the endlessly rolling, up and down stage 11 from Mombuey to Ribeira Sacra-Luintra
He busted his ass all day, in the breakaway of 19 riders, driving at the front, pushing out a three minute gap that had him trying a virtual red jersey. He was burning matches and GC guys don’t like to torch them unless the return on investment is solid.
Sadly for Pinot, his show of aggression netted him all of 12 seconds by the time his GC rivals amped up the pace on the final push to the line. They swallowed up all his time gains so fast it made the move look foolish.
In short, a lot of wasted wattage.
Given that his breakaway group formed after roughly 100 kilometers, that’s twelve whole seconds for 108k’s work of had physical labor. Which doesn’t exactly qualify as a big jump up the GC rankings or a booster shot of confidence.
Twelve seconds is diddly squat, vraiment peu de choses.
“I was the best-placed rider on GC but I decided to go for a tactical game, like a game of poker,” Pinot said. “It would have been great if it had worked out.”
Pinot seems to have enjoyed his romp at the front of the race. In our view, it was a Pierre Rolland-style waste of energy that he will miss later when the real mountains arrive and the race is decided against him.
Pinot rolled in at 10th place, 1:50 behind the winning time of Alessandro De Marchi ( BMC Racing) and then the clock did those twelve short ticks and there was Simon Yates (( Mitchelton-Scott), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Miguel Angel Lopez ( Astana) and Rigoberto Uran EF Education First-Drapac. In fact, all his rivals except less than fabulous Fabio Aru was there.
So that’s a day’s work – “Look out people, I just scored 12 seconds. Whoo-hoo!!!!”
Hey, we applaud Pinot’s pedal in anger. Sometimes the bold moves pays off big and sometimes it doesn’t – read, Alberto Contador, 2017 Vuelta a Espana. Bullets, matches, rolls of dice – you stop looking down at the power meter, consult your legs and courage and away you go. Can’t win if you don’t try.
Thibaut Pinot gave it the full, French, philosophical shrug of the shoulders. “A crazy stage. I tried everything I could. It didn’t work out but at least I tried.” So we’ll award Monsieur Pinot a chapeau for his efforts — but a very small one.