Amid the mania that accompanied Thibaut Pinot's victory on the Col du Tourmalet on Saturday, there was still one nagging doubt: could he have gone earlier?
So convincing was the Frenchman's acceleration in the final 250 metres, so efficiently did the Groupama-FDJ leader distance those left with him, that some wondered whether his acceleration might have have been best deployed a couple of kilometres further down the mountain.
Pinot explained that the stage victory was his priority – he was wrapped up in the atmosphere on one of the Tour de France's most famous climbs, and general classification calculations were far from his mind.
Twenty-four hours later, it was a different story. Pinot went on the offensive more than six kilometres from the top of the Prat d'Albis on stage 15 on Sunday, and reaped the rewards. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) held on from the break, so there was no stage victory, but once again Pinot rode away from all his rivals in the hunt for the yellow jersey.
He put 18 seconds into Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) and Emmanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), 49 into Bernal's teammate Geraint Thomas and Jumbo-Visma's Steven Kruijswijk, and 1:16 into race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep). As a result, Pinot is now up to fourth overall, with his hopes of the podium surely turning into hopes of overall victory.
"I knew the final part of the climb was gentler, so I thought if I attacked on the steep section, I wouldn't be taking too much of a risk by going into the red," Pinot explained. "Even if I was caught, I'd still be able to follow the wheels on that last part."
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