After venting his frustration at the stalemate seen Tuesday on Mount Etna, the Giro d'Italia's first summit finish, Thibaut Pinot is hoping for a more open and attacking ride up Blockhaus today and has warned that he’ll have little hesitation in attacking and trying to gain time.
A stiff headwind on Etna deterred attacks and the overall favourites rode up as one group, which the FDJ rider described as 'not a super situation'.
"Blockhaus is a lot harder than Etna, with steeper gradients. I hope the race is harder, with more people going on the attack," Pinot told L'Equipe in Peschici after stage 8.
"If I have good legs on the Blockhaus, I'll attack, but it depends on my legs and on the wind. If it's like Etna, it will be difficult."
Pinot is a natural climber but one who has made great strides against the clock in the last couple of years, and so the combination of today's summit finish and the stage 10 time trial, separated by a rest day, could see the Frenchman assert his authority. The mountainous third week looms large in the minds of many but Pinot insists he'll take his opportunities as and when they present themselves.
"Because of the rest day after Blockhaus, it allows people to attack more. but I never calculate about the following day - if I have good sensations on Blockhaus, then I'll attack. If I have the legs, I'll attack. I won't wait for the third week."
Pinot certainly seems to be relishing racing on Italian soil, which it was thought would be a good refresher for him after hitting something of a wall in the pressure cooker that is the Tour de France for a talented home GC rider.
The 26-year-old has paid tribute to the crowds earlier in the week and on Saturday he repeatedly referred to 'enjoying' himself and 'having fun', on a day when his FDJ team came to the fore. They hit the front in the final 10km of stage 8 and quickly extinguished Mikel Landa's late attack before dominating the run-in to the twisty uphill finale. Pinot finished sixth on the stage, third from the bunch 12 seconds behind the breakaway.
"We had numbers in the group, the guys felt good and it was better to make that effort at the front than suffer behind. It meant we took fewer risks, we could aim for the stage win, and we enjoyed it,” Pinot explained.
"The team wanted to make an action, they wanted to be up there. I always wanted to go on the attack in final à la italienne like that.”
Asked if he had been frustrated by the tense opening week, with a tightly locked GC situation," he said: "No, that's the way it is. The first week of a Grand Tour is always nervous. We've done the hardest part, and there are more chances to have fun in the weeks to come.
"The appraisal is a good one so far. It's all going well and the sensations are good."