Pinot misses out on his first ever sprint victory at the Tour of the Alps

Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) watched the replay of the close sprint finish at the Tour of the Alps on the big screen in the centre of Cles, pointing out his own errors, as he tried to process missing out of a stage victory and the loss of four precious bonus seconds.

The Frenchman was chasing a morale-boosting stage win and also looking to gain any possible advantage that would move him closer to race leader Geraint Thomas. Pinot collected six bonus seconds for second place; victory would have given him ten seconds and moved him to just nine seconds behind Thomas, with Friday's big mountain stage over the Monte Bondone left to race. Now he is 13 seconds behind Thomas in the general classification and will have to distance the Welshman if he wants to win the Tour of the Alps.

As he watched the replay of the finish, Pinot was even more disappointed on missing out on the stage victory. It would have a been a clear signal and boost to morale as the Giro d'Italia draws nearer and nearer.

"That would have been my first sprint victory… Dommage…" Pinot said, trying to wash away his anger with swigs of water.

"You can see I'm lacking some experience, Montaguti was smart, he closed the door on me. It's a pity because we rode well as a team for a finish like that. We were going for the GC but it was also a chance to win the stage."

A final shot at victory

Pinot's thoughts quickly turned to Friday stage. He is clearly on form, with Thomas also noticing his consistency and aggression so far in the Tour of the Alps.

Team Sky will no doubt ride a hard, power-meter controlled tempo on the 19.4km climb of Monte Bondone but will need to be ready for Pinot's attacks.

The Bondone is the highest climb of this year's Tour of the Alps. However, the 192km stage ends with the short but extremely steep Novaline climb on the opposite side of the valley that should not be underestimated.

The Novaline climb is famous in the Trento area. It is only three kilometres long but has some sections at a 15% gradient and comes just 10km from the finish. It is a perfect launch pad for a final Pinot attack.

"We'll see what happens. If I feel like I did today then it could be good," Pinot suggested.

"Thomas and Landa are very strong, so it'll be complicated to beat them. But whatever happens, it's all good training and experience for the Giro d'Italia. That's the main reason we are here."

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