The Frenchman could possibly return to the Giro this season having previously competed at the race in 2017, where he finished fourth, and 2018, where he abandoned on the penultimate day suffering with a fever and dehydration.
Pinot has endured a rough time in Grand Tour racing over the past few seasons, having torn his leg muscle while lying fifth in the 2019 Tour de France before suffering with a back injury during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Pinot has yet to confirm his 2022 racing programme, although Groupama-FDJ manager Marc Madiot said in October that there was also "a big chance" of the rider returning to the Tour de France for the first time since 2020.
Pinot told Ouest-France that, despite never having worn the yellow jersey of Tour de France leader, he hopes to wear pink at the Giro in order to fulfil all his major dreams during what has so far been a 12-year pro career.
"I checked off: being the French champion, winning stages in the three Grand Tours, winning Il Lombardia... wearing the Giro d'Italia pink jersey is the only thing I'm missing," Pinot said from Groupama-FDJ's start-of-year team camp in the Canary Islands.
"For me, the yellow jersey is... how can I put it? I stay in the real world. The Tour de France yellow jersey has always been, for me as a kid, something too big. So, I have always dreamed of wearing the pink jersey."
Pinot explained that he has been frustrated by how the past two years on the bike have gone, with his battle against a back injury limiting him to a handful of standout rides here and there. In 2020, for example, he took fifth place at Paris-Nice and second at the Critérium du Dauphiné before injuring his back at the Tour.
Last season the condition ruled him out of a Giro d'Italia return and he rode no Grand Tours, with a seventh place at the Tour of Luxembourg arguably his top result during a year which saw him log just 39 race days.
"We're waiting to hurt the others again," Pinot said. "I've got a lot of frustration about this – not being able to exploit what I've got under the bonnet over the last two years. I want to give emotions to the people who support me. I want to give them pleasure in the coming years, especially this year."
Currently at team camp at the beginning of his 13th year as a pro, Pinot was hardly enthusiastic about the camp, and the state of cycling in general compared to how things were in his early years in the peloton.
"Training is no longer the focus of this camp," he said. "Cycling has changed and I have to get used to it. There are many more things in cycling than there were 10 years ago, extras like social networks. When I started out it was more fun and enjoyable.
"It's not the same atmosphere at all. We were always serious in training, but we laughed a lot with it. Today the training is even more serious and we laugh a lot less."
The 32-year-old does, at least, have a certain future away from the bike, and a passion he can enjoy when not training or racing – his farm at home in the eastern region of Franche-Comté.
"I'm fortunate to have a life away from cycling which is very rich and involved with my farm," he said. "Some people cycle for five hours and then sit on the sofa or under the duvet and wait for the evening meal. I don't do that.
"I take out manure, feed my animals. It takes me two or three hours a day. After cycling, I'd like to build an educational farm with a bed-and-breakfast and make honey and jam. I have quite a few fruit trees already. That's my thing."
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Daniel Ostanek has been a staff writer at Cyclingnews since August 2019, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later part-time production editor. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.
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