He wanted to finish his eventful history with the Giro on a high note, and he did. On Saturday, Thibaut Pinot lived up to his own expectations in the terrible Monte Lussari “cronoscalta”, twentieth and penultimate stage of the Giro d’Italia. With the best climber’s jersey on his shoulders, the Frenchman just forgot the last three hectic, lively weeks and all the efforts made in order to fight for the top-5 overall. Looking strong as in his finest hours, he made quite an impression over the nineteen kilometres of racing. He even held the best time for a few moments before settling for a superb fifth place, which allows him to claim fifth place overall tonight. On the eve of the Roman stage, Thibaut Pinot is about to bid a memorable farewell to the “Corsa Rosa”.

“It was just pain”, Bruno Armirail

On Saturday, everything was to be decided on the terrifying ramps of Monte Lussari, in the 106th edition of the Giro d’Italia. The final victory was obviously still at stake between Geraint Thomas and Primoz Roglic, but Thibaut Pinot had his eyes on the top-5, which became really close since his major performance at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo on Friday. On the morning of this stage 20, the Frenchman was only seventeen seconds behind Eddie Dunbar, fifth, but he was himself within reach of Thymen Arensman, three seconds behind. Everything remained to be done on the 18.6-kilometre route, where the first ten kilometres were more or less flat before tackling the final climb of the Giro: 7.8 km at 11%, including four kilometres at nearly 15%. It was then necessary to get 1700 metres above sea level to see Rome in the distance, but above all to finish in style. Due to the particular area of the time trial, the riders were separated into three groups. Fabian Lienhard, Ignatas Konovalovas and Jake Stewart therefore raced against the clock around noon, Rudy Molard found himself in the second group around 2 p.m., while Bruno Armirail and Thibaut Pinot were expected much later at the start, between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. The French champion of the discipline, sixteenth overall in the morning, first set a very good time on the first part, before losing some time in Monte Lussari. At the finish, he still set the sixth provisional time, in 47 minutes and eleven seconds. “It’s more about hell than a time trial,” he smiled after the line. “It’s a course for pure climbers, it’s super hard. It was not a pleasant moment. It was just pain.” Thibaut Pinot had also an appointment with pain, but for the last time ever on the Giro, from 4:59 p.m. precisely. Right away, the rider from Melisey showed that he was ready to leave everything on the road. At the end of the flat part, he even set the fourth best provisional time (the eighth final, note), which launched him in the best possible way for the last climb of the race. There, he did not weaken in any way. On the contrary, he increased the pressure even further, to the point of taking the best provisional time at the intermediate stage located about a kilometre from the summit. With a fluent cadence, but also with tight teeth, Thibaut Pinot gave everything until the last meters to eventually cross the line with a fabulous time of 45 minutes and 22 seconds. Only the first four in the general classification were then able to beat him, but in this decisive stage, the Groupama-FDJ leader therefore came away with a
remarkable top-5 in what was his last sporting battle on the Corsa Rosa. It also allowed him to enter the top-5 of the general classification at the end of this twentieth stage.

“I am proud that I never gave up”, Thibaut Pinot

“It’s a very, very good day for Thibaut,” said Sébastien Joly. “We can’t even say he was motivated… It was more than that. He wanted to make the time trial of his life, and we can almost say that he did. The course was atypical, but it suited him perfectly, and he achieved a great performance”. “It may not be the best time trial of my life but it’s still one of the best,” smiled Thibaut. “I knew it could suit me, I knew that my shape was growing and that I was going well in this third week. It was my last time trial on the Giro, it gave me motivation, I wanted to give it my all! It was violent, but it’s a time trial that only the Giro can offer, and I personally love it!“ His excitement was shown on the ground this Saturday. And on Sunday, in Rome, he will secure his second overall top-5 on the Giro. “It’s not a podium but I really wanted to get this top-5, because it still means a lot to me”, he added. “Physically, it might be the Grand Tour I finish in the best way. It shows that I still have something left in my legs! I always believed in it, even when I had my bad days. I know that on the Giro, you must never give up and that everything is decided in the last 2/3 stages. I always believed in my abilities, I knew I had good legs. It was also not easy to compete for the best climber’s jersey AND the general. So, I’m proud to have succeeded in these two missions. I will still enjoy it for 24 hours, but tonight I feel relieved. I knew I could come back to that level, in a Grand Tour top-5. For this reason, I am proud of myself. I’m proud that I never gave up.” Sunday, the Giro will therefore come to an end in front of the Colosseum. Thibaut Pinot will have the honour of climbing on the podium in the evening, but one stage is left to be raced. “It can be a good finish for Jake”, concluded Sébastien. “He will take his chance with Fabian. Even if we feel that the pressure is dropping a bit this evening, we wanted the two of them to stay focused for tomorrow, in a very particular finish. It’s tricky. In 2018, the stage was neutralized for the overall contenders. We will see how it will be tomorrow, but one thing is for sure, Jake is very motivated”. As for the final victory, it will go tomorrow to Primoz Roglic, who stole the pink jersey from Geraint Thomas on Saturday.

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