Third on his last two stage race appearances at the Volta a Valenciana and Tirreno-Adriatico, FDJ team leader Thibaut Pinot says he is looking for stage wins and a boost to his morale when he returns to racing at this week’s Tour of the Alps, his final event before lining up at next month’s Giro d’Italia.
Having spent the last month training at home in the Vosges and then at a camp with three teammates on Gran Canaria, Pinot played down the suggestion made by Astana’s Michele Scarponi during the pre-race press conference that he’s the favourite for the title of the revamped and renamed Giro del Trentino.
“It’s my first time here and also the first time since I’ve raced since Tirreno-Adriatico [last month] and I’ve come primarily with the goal of preparing for the Giro.
“Ideally, I will come out of this with good form and that will boost my confidence going into next month’s big test,’ said Pinot.
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“I’ve just come from my training camp on Gran Canaria, which was a little bit different to doing one in Tenerife, and I feel in shape,” the Frenchman continued.
“We’ve got a good team here, but not the strongest we could field in the mountains as not all of the team’s best climbers are riding this week. My first goal will be to try to win a stage and then, if I’m in a good position to go for the overall, that may come too.”
Pinot has made the Giro his primary goal this season, and admitted he has long had the Tour of the Alps marked down as his final race before it, particularly as the addition of an extra day of racing has increased its mountainous aspect.
“There aren’t that many races on the calendar with as much climbing as this, so to have a race like this one with five days that all feature some testing climbs is good for climbers like me,” he said.
“That’s the main reason that I included it on my programme. I’m just hoping that the weather assists us and improves on the conditions that we’re seeing today.”
Pinot may not get his wish from that perspective as the cold and wet conditions are expected to continue for the opening two stages of the race, although an improvement is forecast beyond that.
Asked for his own pick as favourite, Pinot trod more carefully than Scarponi.
“It’s hard to say who the favourite is. There are some big teams here like Astana, BMC and Sky, but I’m sure it will be a great fight and that we’ll have a great winner on Friday,” he said.