La Planche des Belles Filles is a special climb for FDJ's Thibaut Pinot. The first summit finish of the 2017 Tour de France is where the Frenchman learned to ski, but on Wednesday Pinot will be aiming to be the faster ascender rather than descender.
Fourth at the Giro d'Italia in May, Pinot is on stage hunting duty this July - abundantly clear from his three-minute time loss on stage 3 into Longwy.
"It was with the eye on the rest of the Tour. I know well enough that I lack the form to ride top-five," Pinot told French media and Cyclingnews at the FDJ team bus in Mondorf-les-Bains of the time loss.
"I don't fancy a battle to finish eighth overall. That's why I prefer to lose time, so that I can have fun and do great things in the remainder of the Tour."
Although it is Pinot's home climb, the 27-year-old was downplaying his chances despite him placing second to Vincenzo Nibali when the Tour last visited in 2014.
"It's close by my home. I live at the foot, at 10km [Mélisey]. The race passes by my house," Pinot explained.
"I've done the climb since I was a kid. I've probably climbed it about 50 times. I know La Planche very well. It doesn't suit me too much. It's very irregular. The stage is very nice, with the mountain-top finish."
Pinot, who has won Tour stages in 2010 and 2015, added that he believes the GC riders will be contesting the stage and therefore he's looking to later into the race for his opportunities.
"The favourites will fight each other, including Froome, who loves to win one of the first mountains stages. For me, the weekend might be better," he said.
With the Giro still fresh in the memory, Pinot explained that he needs a mountain stage in his legs to regain his 'rhythm' before proclaiming himself as favourites for a mountain stage win.
"It comes a bit too early after the Giro to hunt the stage win, I think. I rested a lot and trained, but most of all resting. I'm feeling average. I lack training and rhythm," he said.
"Maybe after a week of racing, I'll go better. The stage on Sunday [stage 9] is monstrous. It's the first real rendezvous, and a breakaway really stands a chance."
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