After a solid but unremarkable opening time trial performance, the French champion has ridden a very strong first week, and as a result, he remains fourth overall on GC, 45 seconds down. But as Pinot pointed out after finishing second on the Gran Sasso, beaten in an uphill sprint by Giro d'Italia leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): "That's my third podium stage finish this week without winning, and I'd love a stage win. But it was very windy and finally, it came down to a sprint."
Third on Mount Etna, second on the Mercogliano climb and second again on the Gran Sasso, Pinot has been within sight of a repeat of his 2017 Giro stage win in Asiago ever since the race returned to Italy last Monday.
"My aim of the podium remains intact, and that's great," Pinot told reporters after another frustrating near miss as he stood at the end of the fenced-off finishing area, a scarf already tucked into his jersey to keep him warm in the icy wind.
"Froome? I'm more worried about myself. But it's evidently better to be ahead of him than behind. And the legs are there, and I can take encouragement from that."
As the stage to Gran Sasso reached the decisive last two kilometres, Pinot moved into the leading position on the small group of favourites. Then when Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) launched a blistering attack in the last 600 metres, the Frenchman was there alongside Richard Carapaz (Movistar), Yates and Esteban Chaves. In the last dash for the line, he ran Yates the closest, but the Briton was unstoppable.
"I would have loved a stage win so I can concentrate on the overall," Pinot added. "We'll see how the course plays out and if I can do it, and finally get that win."