On Tirreno-Adriatico, the sprinters left the scene to the punchers/climbers on Thursday, in Bellante. On the final four kilometres climb, Thibaut Pinot fought all the way to place eighteenth on the line, twelve seconds behind the winner and new leader Tadej Pogacar. Another uphill finish is on the menu Friday in Fermo.

For the second and penultimate time, the peloton had to cover more than 200 kilometres on Tirreno-Adriatico on Thursday. There were exactly two hundred and two between Cascata delle Marmore and Bellante, through a hilly course. Unlike the first online stages, the breakaway did not establish itself straight away. More than twenty kilometres were needed for Lilian Calmejane (AG2R-Citroën), Jasha Sutterlin (Bahrain-Victorious), Jhonatan Restrepo (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Jonathan Caicedo (EF Education-EasyPost), Diego Rosa (Eolo -Kometa), Einer Rubio (Movistar), Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic), Tsgabu Grmay (BikeExchange-Jayco), Chris Hamilton (Team DSM) and Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) to go away. “The first thing for everyone was to get through this tough start to the stage, which we did well overall”, said Sébastien Joly later. “Once the breakaway was gone, it was calmer”. The peloton granted up to six minutes to the leading men and the chase then gradually got under way. After quite a long descending false flat around halfway, the gap was reduced to three minutes with sixty kilometres to go. Soon after, the riders arrived on the Bellante circuit including one climb (4.2 km at 5.7%), and the stage immediately got crazy. “The first lap was extremely fast”, testified Sébastien Joly, speaking about the attack of Tadej Pogacar, Remco Evenepoel and Filippo Ganna following the first downhill. The attempt was still neutralized a few minutes later while Simmons eventually was the last man standing from the breakaway. At the second time up the climb, twenty kilometres from the finish, he still had a forty-second lead.

“I feel that I’m improving”, Thibaut Pinot

Behind him, however, it got lively again within the bunch. Still there at this point, Arnaud Démare fully took part in this aggressive race for a handful of kilometres. Everything finally got back to normal with ten kilometres to go and the former French champion took on a domestique role. “Today’s goal was to see where Thibaut was physically speaking”, added Sébastien. “In the end, everyone gave a hand. Antoine and Arnaud did a great job in particular to position Thibaut in the best possible way at the bottom of the last climb”. The French climber then tried to follow as much as possible in the final, where many attacks occurred. However, the decisive one happened just a few hundred metres from the line by Tadej Pogacar, who got another win. After a solid effort, Thibaut Pinot netted eighteenth place just twelve seconds off. “I still miss a bit of power to try to gain some places, but I’m still satisfied,” he said. “It was a real punchy effort and I still lack a bit of race rhythm, but I’m happy with my day and I feel that I’m improving as the race progresses. I hope it will continue this way until Saturday. I would like to finally be able to show myself on a real climb and I hope that the legs will be good as they were today”. “When you see the speed in the last climb and when you look at the rankings, I think it’s a good top-20 at WorldTour level”, added Sébastien Joly. “He looked quite satisfied on the bus, and he made a good step forward today. There are still two good days for him. It will be steeper tomorrow, and it will be a real climb to do twice after tomorrow. In just three days, he has the chance to test himself on three terrains and we will take stock at the end of the week”.

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