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Pinot breaks through in Italy

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and his third-place trophy.

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and his third-place trophy. (Image credit: Sirotti)

At only 21 years of age, Thibaut Pinot has been building up solid results in the pro peloton this season. The French climber, a neo pro riding for FDJ, is currently leading the Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda Bergamasca after winning its first stage in Castione della Presolana on Wednesday.

Earlier this year, Pinot won the Tour d'Alsace and two stages at the Tour de l'Ain on top of finishing third overall at the Tour of Turkey. In June, he finished second behind Joaquin Rodriguez in the ultimate stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, and most recently scored a third place behind Davide Rebellin in the Tre Valli Varesine.

FDJ coach Jacques Decrion has high hopes for the young climber. "He's a dedicated worker, a winner who can't conceive cycling without the victory," he told L'Equipe on Friday. "He doesn't lose faith when he's in difficulty. On the next day after a defeat, he's always very good. He is ambitious and sees his future in the big races."

Pinot would like to continue his streak of success at the Giro di Lombardia on October 15, but first will concentrate on the overall victory of the Settimana Lombarda. With two hilly stages to go and Simone Stortoni (Colnago) and Davide Rebellin (Miche) on his heels at 23 and 33 seconds respectively, the race is far from over. Still, Pinot is confident and helped by teammate Arnold Jeannesson, who finished 15th at the Tour de France.

"Arnold is very strong. I know I won't be alone in the final, so I should be OK," Pinot said. "The season is going great for me. I haven't raced too much, so I'm still fresh. I hope to go to the Giro di Lombardia."

Having skipped the Tour de France, Pinot trained hard in the Alps this July to strengthen his climbing abilities. Team management wants to build his talent up step by step. "At 21 years, he's on time in his development. We don't want to hasten things... We're staying calm," Decrion added.