The first test went well for Thibaut Pinot on Tirreno-Adriatico. On the explosive uphill finish in Tortoreto, the French climber fought hard to finish in a group of about fifteen favourites, eventually outsprinted by Primoz Roglic. Sixteenth of this stage 4, the Groupama-FDJ rider also moved up to fourteenth place overall, on the eve of a mountain-top finish.
There was finally a change of profile this Thursday on Tirreno-Adriatico, after a fast time trial and two long stages made for the sprinters. On stage 4, the punchers-climbers were expected since the finish line was located at the top of the Tortoreto climb (3.2 km at 7%), which also featured two other times on a 17-kilometre circuit. Before reaching the latter, nearly 160 kilometres were first to be completed. Five men, naming Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa), Filippo Magli (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè), Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel-PremierTech), Valerio Conti (Team Corratec) and Lucas Eriksson (Tudor), did it in the lead. The peloton let the gap rise up to seven minutes, but also came back pretty early, when the hilly final started with sixty kilometres to go. On the first time up the Tortoreto climb, Julian Alaphilippe made an acceleration which created the first damage.
“We are where we wanted to be”, Benoît Vaugrenard
A lap further on, about twenty kilometres from the finish, it was up to Quentin Pacher to set a high pace on this same climb. “The course suited Valentin and Thibaut”, explained Benoît Vaugrenard. “The team worked well to position them, we then hoped that it would go fast enough on the climb. So, we had planned to make it harder if necessary, and that’s what Quentin did very well”. With one lap to go, there were only around fifty riders left in the leading peloton which headed to the final climb. At the bottom, Thibaut Pinot and Valentin Madouas tried to move back up, and the main attacks eventually came just a kilometre from the line. A group of favorites went away, and Thibaut Pinot fought hard to join it in the last meters. “Thibaut had good but not exceptional legs,” said Benoît. “As for Valentin, he was not having a great day. At this level, with the pace there was in the final climb, you slip back quickly if you are not 100%. Thibaut finished quite well, he is sixteenth in the stage and fourteenth overall. It’s good. We are where we wanted to be. We wanted to get to the start of the fifth stage with Valentin or Thibaut close to the best, and that is the case”.
While Primoz Roglic won the stage and Lennard Kämna took the leader’s jersey, the Frenchman therefore gained thirteen positions overall and is now 37 seconds behind the German. In the final climb of Sarnano-Sassotetto on Friday (13 km at 7.3%), he will aim to continue his rise. “It’s a big test with this final climb, but you shouldn’t underestimate Saturday’s stage either”, concluded Benoît.