Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) could skip the Tour de France next year in a bid to 'spice up' his career, with a Giro d'Italia debut on the cards as part of a Grand Tour double.
Having put an early end to his season after illness forced him to abandon the Tour de France and then skip the Olympics, the Frenchman is already looking ahead to next year, and spoke of his desire to shake things up in an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe.
Pinot has had an up-and-down relationship with the Tour, with the highs of a podium finish in 2014 and a stage win on Alpe d'Huez in 2015 joined by two consecutive disappointing showings from a general classification perspective.
Having made a storming start to the 2016 season, which saw notable improvements in his time trialling, hopes were higher than ever at this year's Tour, but he came into the race overcooked and abandoned through illness after 12 stages.
Having ridden the past five Tours, the 26-year-old was unequivocal when asked if it was the right time for a change.
"Yes, for me, definitely," he said. "That would spice up my career again because I always do the same programmes, and I'd like to break out of that routine."
As a Frenchman and the star rider in a state-sponsored French team, however, there's a big difference between wanting to skip the Tour and actually being allowed to.
"The decision lies with the sponsor, for whom the Tour de France represents, in terms of visibility, the most important race of the year," Pinot recognised. "I decide my race programme outside of the Grand Tours, but not the Grand Tours themselves."
If it were up to Pinot, he'd make the Giro d'Italia the focus of his 2017 season, and a debut at the first Grand Tour of the season - which may represent a better stepping stone to Tour success - has been on his mind for a while now.
In any case, the Giro is very much on the cards as he confirmed he will ride two of the three Grand Tours next term – he's just not sure which ones.
"I hope to go to the Giro but it's not my call," he said.
"What's certain is that I'll do two Grand Tours next year," he added, before musing: "Giro and Tour – going for GC at the Giro and stage wins at the Tour? [or maybe] Giro and Vuelta?"
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