Thibaut Pinot’s dream of securing a final victory in the Tour of Italy vanished on the peaks of Val di Zoldo on Thursday after another second place in a stage where the favorites attacked, without making big differences.
Escaped with six other riders, including Warren Barguil (3rd in the end) and Aurélien Paret-Peintre (5th), the Groupama-FDJ climber was beaten in the sprint by the Italian champion, Filippo Zana, with whom he had passed on the attack in the last two climbs.
In the end, the conclusion is cruel: it is already the fifth time this season that Pinot has finished on the second step of the podium, after the Tour du Doubs, the Tour du Jura, the Tour de Romandie and the 13th stage of this Giro, Friday in Crans Montana.
“It’s the race. The strongest won, I was not having an exceptional day, I needed a little something to let go of Zana, it’s a shame,” he commented.
The Franc-Comtois, who will be 33 on Monday and has not raised his arms since winning the Tour of Switzerland in June 2022, probably missed his last chance to win the Tour of Italy before retiring. at the end of the season.
Because the legs are likely to be heavy on Friday during the queen stage towards the Tre Cime di Lavardo, the roof of this 106th edition, where we expect a great explanation between favorites.
Briton Geraint Thomas, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Thursday, is still in pink with 29 seconds ahead of Slovenian Primoz Roglic, his new runner-up.
Both men pulled a small gap on third seeded Portuguese Joao Almeida who failed to match their acceleration but still managed to limit the damage to hold on to the podium, 39 seconds behind Thomas.
“Opportunity of a Lifetime”
“It’s a good day. I stayed with Primoz and we managed to take some time off Joao. But you have to be careful. Roglic had a bad day the other day and today was at the tour of Almeida”, commented the pink jersey.
Arrived about two minutes ahead of the favorites, Pinot is back in the general standings where he is now in seventh place, 4 min 43 behind the leader. He can also console himself for having taken back the blue jersey of best climber after having filled up at the top of all the passes.
But it was clearly the disappointment that prevailed for the Frenchman, that we could see the haggard look and curled up on himself at the end of the stage.
He had however done what was necessary by hanging a strong breakaway in the company of two other Frenchmen. Unlike the stage in Crans Montana, where he had howled his frustration after the lack of cooperation from his companions on the run, this time the understanding in the group was perfect until the end.
And it was on the pedal that Pinot won all these pretty people, except the amazing Filippo Zana, 24, sublimated by wearing the jersey of national champion.
“It’s already a dream to be on this Giro. So to win a stage, with the Italian champion’s jersey, it’s incredible. It was the opportunity of a lifetime”, jubilant the rider of Jayco-AlUla.
Pinot was sorry for having “launched the sprint from a bit far”. But, he added, “there is still a lot less disappointment” than on Friday. “I really put everything I had. It was a great breakaway, I was with Warren and Aurélien, guys I like.”
“I’m taking back this blue jersey which represents me well and which I deserve, he said again. Tomorrow, it will be a goal to keep it. It’s always been a dream to be on the Giro podium, it will be maybe not the general but that of climber. To finish like that on the Giro, it would be a beautiful image.”