Pinot upbeat after consistent ride on steepest ascent of Vuelta a Espana

Thibaut Pinot’s steady rise towards top form in the Vuelta a Espana took another step up on Saturday as the Frenchman stubbornly refused to cede ground on the final climb of Praeres.

The Groupama-FDJ rider was gapped around halfway up the agonisingly steep farm track but he seemed to improve the higher it went. He gradually clawed his way back up to the fast-dwindling group of favourites. Then when Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) launched themselves forwards in the final kilometre, Pinot managed to bridge across with Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team).

17 seconds adrift of the strongest GC rider, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the Camperona, at Praeres Pinot regained two seconds on the Colombian, crossing the line in fourth place. He is 11th at 2:46 but far more upbeat about his Vuelta a Espana and the final week.

“We had hoped to do a little better but I have some strong rivals out there,” Pinot said as he waited to head down the descent to the team buses. “I just didn’t have the legs to finish it off.”

“But I seem to be getting better. Tomorrow [Sunday] is longer and steady so we hope it’s another chance for me.”

Asked if he thought that Praeres was the hardest climb he had ever done, Pinot responded with a slight grin that “You only find this kind of climb at the Vuelta. I’d say it was one of the hardest because it was so steep, but the Zoncolan is tougher.”

Overall, Pinot has climbed from 16th to 11th overall, and with the Lagos de Covadonga - of the three second weekend summit finishes, the one which on paper favours him the most - still to come, it could well be that he yet gains further placings on GC as he continues to hunt for stage wins.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.