Thibaut Pinot is one cow closer to retirement

Forget about the goats – there's a new star in town.

Iain Treloar
by Iain Treloar 20.06.2023 Photography by
The Grubers & Thibaut Pinot/Charlotte Patat
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Thibaut Pinot’s final season has, so far, been a memorable one. At the Giro d’Italia, he rode his way into 5th on GC and the KOM jersey, and rode his way out of two stage wins. On social media, he was a central character in a Twitter spat for the ages. On Netflix, he was outed as a “romantic rider lost in the modern world”. And there’s still his last Tour de France to go. 

Now, what if I told you all of that was mere window-dressing for The Only Thibaut Pinot News That Matters? 

Friends, Thibaut Pinot has (another) new cow.

The charismatic Frenchman’s hobby farm has long been a source of joy for a certain niche within the bigger niche that is cycling fandom. Pinot and his partner, Charlotte Patat, are curators of the popular Instagram page, kim.goat, which provides glimpses of their growing menagerie to 16,900 followers. 

“I started with four goats, an animal my father didn’t want because it required ten times more work than a sheep,” Pinot has written of his farm. “[The goat] is more fragile, it doesn’t like the rain, it does bullshit, it runs away, it escapes, it eats the trees … I’m smiling while writing this to you, but I think I like the psychology of the goat.”

With that preference established, understandably, the goats are the star of the kim.goat show – and there’s not just Kim, but also Quentine and a few more, plus a whole flock of little baby ones. There are at least four donkeys of varying levels of fuzz, which Kim and Quentine sometimes jump on the backs of. In supporting roles, there’s a coop full of chickens, presided over by a matronly Sussex hen called Chanel. As of 2021, there were two new Highland Cows, and there are sheep in the mix too.

The Pinot/Patat pastoral plate seemed full, but as a couple of recent Instagram posts shows, nature finds a way. “I have always loved births,” Pinot has written. “I don’t like the rare years when there aren’t any – it’s as if something was missing.”

On that front, there’s nothing missing at the moment. First up – 18 weeks ago, there was a new baby cow called Utopie, filmed here meeting Kim the goat:

This little lady is, I have learnt after too much time staring at pictures of cow breeds, a Vosgienne. It’s not just native to the area, but also “an agile, strong and solid cattle breed” with “smaller udders than those of her competitors, because she must be able to move in tall, bramble grass without getting scratched”. It is “very docile with humans, in addition to being very curious. She may come to you on a walk to sniff your hand. She is very social.”

With the light there is shade, however, because the Vosgienne has a feisty streak with other animals – “it will tend to be dominant by giving gores, for example”. As you can see in the above video, the mother of little Utopie comes thundering in from the left prepared to show Kim its dominance by, for example, giving him a gore. Kim wisely retreats. 

Utopie is unquestionably a pretty great little cow, but it was about to have a rival for Pinot’s heart – another calf called Ugette.

First things first: overlook the fact that wounded heart-throb Thibaut Pinot has plausibly edited together a video of a calf with the zoomies, soundtracked by the deeply cursed Crazy Frog.

Focus on Ugette herself, barely out of the viscous ooze of her mother’s womb. Watch her freak herself out with something – a passing tractor, an approaching goat, the distant throaty bellow of Marc Madiot on the breeze; we do not know – and take off into the field. Her little tail is up. Her legs gallop goofily. On the way back she breaks into an elegant canter. She nears her mother, who looks up with a cool disregard. Then, Ugette stands behind a gate, staring down the Instagram followers of the world, a black and white ball of bovine joie de vivre

Is it possible to choose a favourite cow on the Pinot/Patat farm? Perhaps it is, although I can’t do it. Between Utopie, Ugette, the patient Vosgienne matriarchs, and the Highland siblings, there’s a lot to love – maybe too much to love.

And therein lies the crux of it: with each passing glimpse of Thibaut Pinot’s bucolic existence off the bike, you can begin to understand the man himself a little more. He rides out of his skin, dragging along a noble melancholy, bearing the weight of a nation on his shoulders and the roars of his directeur sportif in his ears. He searches for wins, finding them less often than he’d like. At home he has a beautiful farm with a beautiful partner and dozens of beautiful animals. “I am rooted there … I will never be able to go elsewhere,” he has said.

With each new animal, there’s another tie to a place that he feels deeply about – another cow closer to retirement, another goat. Can you begrudge him leaving the sport? Can you look at Ugette dancing through the field, and not also feel a tug to that place?

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