Pinot takes out hammer

Hammer, pinot, hammer.

Hammer, pinot, hammer.

“He has delivered a hammer blow to Contador!!!!!”

The breathless quote is correct although we’ll take responsibility for the explosion of exclamation points. The race announcer went a bit bonkers, as if Thibaut Pinot of FDJ had just stolen a stage win on Alpe d’Huez and overall victory in the 2017 Tour de France from Alberto Contador in the final 200 meters up the mountain.

Actually, it was stage 2 of the Route del Sol, not the Tour de France and the climb was Spain’s Alto Peña del Águila, not the famous and fearsome Alpe. But yes, Pinot did beat Contador, who looked all set for victory until Pinot bridged up and then quickly accelerated past in the final 200 meters to the finish.

Contador still took enough time to pull the leader’s jersey off Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde, who didn’t quite has the wattage to stick with Pinot and the Pistolero but still managed third on the stage.

For now, it’s La Vie en Rose for Pinot as he preps for his upcoming tilt at the Giro d’Italia. This season he’s chosen to avoid the potential misfortune, stress, unhappiness and media pressure that come with being the French hope in the Tour de France.

He’s decided to take a break from the exhausting “no French winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985” narrative, that on several levels, has gotten old. That was also the miserable lot of climber Pierre Rolland when he was with Europcar. Now that burden officially falls on the skinny shoulders of last year’s Tour runner-up Romain Bardet.

Pinot delivered a hammer blow in mid-February that he will hope to replicate in mid-May against the likes of Astana’s Fabio Aru, Movistar’s Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali of the oil-rich and human rights-compromised Kingdom of Bahrain squad.

A hammer blow of that magnitude would have every race announcer legitimately going bonkers.

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