Within an increasingly important international participation, the French presence at the Tour of the Alps, Euroregional race scheduled from April 16th to 20th, 2018 is strong and qualified also this year. At the start from Arco there will be two transalpine line-ups: Groupama-FDJ and AG2R-La Mondiale, both belonging to the World Teams category, that includes the most competitive teams in the World (9 out of 20 line-ups at the start, historical record for the Tour of the Alps).
The Groupama-FDJ has confirmed the presence of Thibaut Pinot, considered one of the favorites on the eve and one of the strongest rivals Brit Chris Froome, the winner of four Tour de France who will start at the Tour of the Alps for the first time this year. The French talented climber, already a brilliant protagonist in 2017 on the roads of the 2.HC, considers the Tour of the Alps a crucial juncture for his season. He has also given his view on the route, intriguing for its technical content and ideal to tune up his condition ahead of the forthcoming grand tours starts.
The words said by the French rider in 2017, at the end of his first experience at the race, speak volumes of the feeling of Pinot for the Tour of the Alps: “My first Tour of the Alps – Pinot said – was a wonderful experience. I did not personally know this area, which is of extraordinary beauty, as well as the routes of this race. Coming here was certainly the best choice I could make in view of the Giro. Wait for me here next year, because I’ll be back”. Well, he kept his word.
Last year Thibaut Pinot rode a Tour of the Alps as absolute protagonist, always in the heart of the race: his stage victory occurred in the final stage of Trento, on the heels of a consistent high-level performance, with 3 more stage podiums and the overall second place, just 7 seconds from overall winner Geraint Thomas.
The confirmation of the combative “spirit” that animates the 28-year-old rider is supported by the choice of the 6 team units who will be beside him on the roads of Trentino, South Tyrol and Tyrol: climbers Preidler and Reichenbach, the experienced road captain Steve Morabito and then valuable contributors like Bonnet, Ludvigsson and Roy. Essentially, the same lineup that is expected to start at the Giro d’Italia, where Pinot will nurture ambitious goals after last year’s fourth overall.
The presence of AG2R-La Mondiale will be maybe less ambitious, but still very significant. The team will line up around experienced Alexandre Geniez, surrounded by a team of stage hunters who could thrive in the medium mountain stages in program. Among those, Matteo Montaguti already has a good feeling with the Euroregional race, after gaining last year’s prestigious victory in the Cles stage. The thirty-four-year-old rider from Forlì will try to replay it in a few days, perhaps at the finish line in Merano or Lienz, supported by precious helpers like Cherel, Dupont, Chevrier, Jauregui and Venturini.