Having pored over the details of the route for the 2018 Giro d'Italia, Thibaut Pinot has said that he wants to return to the Italian Grand Tour next season. The Frenchman hinted that he could also join Chris Froome in backing it up with a ride at the Tour de France, before targeting the World Championships in September.
Pinot made his debut at the Giro last season and finished fourth overall, just 37 seconds off the podium. The climbing-heavy and time trial-light course has enticed Pinot, who says the finer details of his calendar will be meted out at a training camp next month.
"Of course, I would really like to take part in this Giro, especially after seeing the route," Pinot told Ouest France. "We will have to wait for the training camp with my team in Calpe in December to discuss it. Next year will be a special year where I will also target the World Championships so there will be a programme to draw up."
Pinot rode both the Giro and Tour for the first time this season. He went into his second Grand Tour hunting for stage victories after winning a stage and coming so close to the podium at the Giro. The 27-year-old bided his time in the opening weeks as he looked to conserve his energy for a tilt at the big mountains at the Tour, but he never got his opportunity as illness forced him to quit in the final week. Should he try the double again, he would do it differently.
"If I do the Giro-Tour double next year, I will try to make the Tour in a better shape than this year," Pinot explained. "You must always learn from your mistakes and this year I made a few. So, if I come back on the Tour next July, I will be in better condition.
"It's not easy, but there will be another week next year between the two races. Everything will also depend on my start to the season and the goals that the team sets for me."
After a route that gave the time triallists a lot to smile about this season, the Giro d'Italia organisers unveiled a route that is more heavily geared towards the climbers. There are more than 20 fewer kilometres against the watch and barely anything that can be classified as a sprint stage. After the opening stages in Israel, the riders will be sent into the mountains. With eight summit finishes, Pinot senses an opportunity for a stage victory or two.
"I am pleasantly surprised. It's a great course," said Pinot. "Once we leave Israel, we go directly to the middle and high mountain stages. And after, the last two or three mountain stages are pretty impressive. In total, there are eight summit finishes, which is average for the Giro, and that's a good thing. These are the stages that suit me, and when you have eight, you can play for the victory in at least one or two.
"The Giro is still a little better for climbers while the Tour favours more complete riders."
As well as the route announcement, the big news on Wednesday evening was that Froome would ride the Giro d'Italia for the first time since 2010. Together with his attempt at winning a fifth Tour de France, Froome will become the latest rider to make a bid for the Giro-Tour double. Nobody has achieved the feat since Marco Pantani in 1998, but Pinot believes Froome has the capacity to do it and muses on whether he could ride all three Grand Tours next season.
"We were expecting it a bit," Pinot said of the announcement. "Knowing he had won the Vuelta last September, aiming for the Giro now is no surprise. Can he achieve the double? He did it on the Tour and the Vuelta, and he was even stronger on the Vuelta, so that might not be a problem for him. And maybe he'll even do the triple with the Vuelta?"
Pinot puts Froome front and centre as the favourite to take home the maglia rosa next May but says that he won't have an easy ride.
"Froome has announced his presence and he will be the 'scarecrow,'" Pinot said. "Afterwards, as usual, there will be five or six outsiders who will be there to try to unsettle him. After all, Froome is not unbeatable. He arrives at a Grand Tour that he does not necessarily know. He will be the big favourite, but on terrain he doesn't know, which can change the situation."
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