Thibaut Pinot changed jerseys this Monday on the Giro, but for a good reason. Thanks to two short sprints in the last hour of racing, the French rider was able to cross the two climbs of the second stage in the lead, collect twelve points in the mountain classification, and therefore put on the “maglia azzurra” at the finish. A first for him. The Groupama-FDJ climber also finished in a small bunch, alongside Lars van den Berg, Bruno Armirail and Stefan Küng, who remains fourth overall before the first summit finish on Tuesday.

For the second day in a row, more than 200 kilometres were to be covered on Monday on the Giro. Two hundred and thirteen was the exact mileage of the Corsa Rosa’s third stage between Abruzzo and Basilicata, through Molisé. Another sprint was expected, but the bunch was supposed to be way more reduced than the day before due to the two climbs featuring in the last hour of racing. The day’s breakaway, on the other hand, did not arouse a real interest. Teammates Alexander Konychev and Veljko Stojnić (Corratec-Selle Italia) were indeed not followed when they attacked after a few seconds. The riders therefore set off for a really long day, on an easy course for the first part of the race. The peloton easily controlled the leading duo, and despite the rain appearing at halfway point, the race remained quite calm until forty kilometres to go, where the bottom of the first and penultimate climb of the day was located. The breakaway was caught soon after, the peloton lost many riders, and as they approached the summit, Thibaut Pinot made his way to the front of the bunch.

“A nice bonus”, Thibaut Pinot

Moments later, the Frenchman stood on the pedals and delivered a short acceleration that proved enough to get the first position at the top. He did it again in the next climb and was able to grab twelve points in the mountain classification in just ten kilometres, thus securing the “maglia azzurra”. “Taking the jersey was not planned”, he then said. “It started with a conversation with Rudy during the stage which was actually very long. It became possible when the breakaway was caught, and it didn’t cost me any energy. I also needed to be in a good position to tackle the descents, so it was a useful effort”. About sixty men survived the two climbs within the peloton, and Michael Matthews won the sprint a little later. Jake Stewart, who had his eyes on today’s stage, couldn’t take part in the fight due to a puncture on the first climb. “It definitely penalized him”, indicated Sébastien Joly. “Then, it was difficult to come back. Kono was with him, worked well to limit the losses, but the front group was going too fast”. Lars van den Berg, Bruno Armirail, Stefan Küng and Thibaut Pinot were able to stay in the bunch until the end of the stage, and the Swiss rider eventually retained his fourth place overall.

As for Thibaut Pinot, he climbed on the podium for the first time in this 2023 Giro and collected the best climber’s jersey. “It’s always good to wear a distinctive jersey,” he added. “For now, that’s not a goal. I’m focused on the GC. It’s a nice bonus and it makes me happy to have this jersey for the first time. It is also my first distinctive jersey on the Giro, and it cost me nothing. It also allows us to break the bad spiral a bit, after Rudy’s crash, the time trial where we were hoping for a bit better and yesterday’s split. We can restart on the right foot and that’s a good thing.” Thibaut took the jersey quite naturally, and it’s good for morale,” added Sébastien. “We also managed to ride more as a team today, and that was the most important thing for us. The initial goals remain the same, we are focused on that”. Tuesday, the overall could change quite a bit since 3600 meters of elevation gain and a mountaintop-finish in Lago Laceno are the menu for the fourth stage. “I don’t think there will be a big fight tomorrow, but some will try to test themselves”, concluded Thibaut. “There will still be gaps because the finish is hard, but there will most importantly be a big battle for the breakaway because I think the pink jersey will change hands tomorrow”.

No comment