French climber Pinot targets Giro peak

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Thibaut Pinot aiming for Giro fitness peak

French climber Thibaut Pinot, who has been struggling with a back problem, will test his fitness for the Giro d'Italia at the Tour of the Alps next week.

Popular with French fans for his 'all in' approach Pinot says he will be at the start-line of the Giro on May 8, if and only if, he is on top form.

He won the Tour of the Alps in 2018, and it will be telling how he does on the five day mountain run with its short, steep, explosive stages that he once called his finest victory.

"I'm optimistic about the back, but we'll only find out in the race," said the 30-year-old, who has won mountain stages on the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana.

"But I'll only go to the Giro if I'm 100 per cent," he said, adding he was 99 per cent sure that whatever happened he would not race the Tour de France, which this year favours time trailers.

"The Giro is the toughest event and I couldn't face going through what happened to me on the Tour and Vuelta," he said referring to his struggles after a bad fall on the Nice Promenade des Anglais last year on the opening stage of the Tour de France.

Since then, Pinot has had to change his position and wear orthopaedic insoles.

"That is why I'm being so careful," he says.

"Training is one thing, but racing quite another. You only really find out where you are in competition."

Pinot had French fans hoping for a home victory in the 2019 Tor de France until three days from the finish line when he pulled out.

The FDJ rider told his fans not to judge his form on results at the recent Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished 43rd after suffering bronchitis.

"I'm unconcerned by the results, I just want to know if I'll be fit enough for the Giro," said Pinot, who is highly popular in Italy and who has a tattoo in Italian on his arm: "Only winning is beautiful".

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