Photo credit: Presse Sports

The last time Thibaut Pinot took part in the Critérium du Dauphiné was in 2016, when he won the queen stage to Méribel after dropping out of contention for the general classification and finished 16th overall the next day in Superdevoluy. Heading into his fourth appearance in the Alpine race, the Groupama–FDJ leader is adamant that he has what it takes to fight for podium, despite a star-studded field in which Tour de France contenders such as Nairo Quintana and Steven Kruijswijk have also changed their usual routines to measure their progression in the Dauphiné. This fierce competition is exactly what the rider from Franche-Comté is looking for.

How would you rate your build-up as you head into the Critérium du Dauphiné?

I’ve just finished a block of solid training, with several camps in which I reconnoitred Tour de France stages. I won the last race I entered, the Tour de l’Ain, so it’s only normal to feel relaxed and confident going into the Dauphiné. I’m bang on schedule.

What goals have you set yourself, considering these good sensations?

My main objective in the Critérium du Dauphiné will be to work with my team and go face to face with the strong field and the competition that awaits me there. I’m itching to start the race, I won’t be holding myself back. My plan is to go on the attack, jump from the front and race aggressively. I want to win. If I can do this, the general classification will follow.

The stars of the Dauphiné will be looking to test their legs ahead of the Tour de France. Have you singled out any stages?

The time trial will be one of the highlights of the week. I did a specific time trialling camp in May, so I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel on a stage that is not entirely unlike the Tour de France time trial we will face in Pau in July.