Pinot takes the lead at Tour of the Alps, avoids Froome’s salbutamol case

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) lost the Tour of the Alps to Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) by just six seconds in 2017 but promised not to miss out this year. The Frenchman blew the race apart with his instinctive aggression on stage 3 to Merano and pulled on the fuchsia leader’s jersey.

Pinot dragged an attack away on the Passo della Mendola with 50km to go with long surges of speed, exposing the weakness of both Team Sky and Astana. The attack gained a minute on the long climb as Astana and Team Sky argued about who should lead the chase. The time gradually came down as Kenny Elissonde, again, gave his all for his Team Sky leader Chris Froome.

The Frenchman’s move was eventually nullified near Merano after Froome tucked and dived his way down the long descent. Pinot’s descending skills again let him down, but he still had the strength to win the sprint behind lone, late-race attacker Ben O’Connor (Dimension Data), who was initially part of Pinot’s move.

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Race leader Ivan Sosa (Androni Giocattoli) crashed on the descent, losing four minutes and so Pinot’s name rang out across Merano as he was declared the new race leader.

“It’s great to take the jersey. It makes up for last year,” Pinot explained after the podium ceremony.

“Thomas attacked and gained time on me while I pulled back some seconds thanks to time bonuses. But he was stronger, and it wasn’t enough to win.”

Natural aggression but no comment on Froome

Only victory is beautiful, even better if in Italy

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