Perennial French hope Pinot misses Tour to focus on Giro

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Thibaut Pinot struggled on last year's Tour de France and will skip the race this year

Thibaut Pinot, for so long one of the great hopes of French fans, said on Tuesday he will skip the Tour de France this year to focus on the Giro d'Italia.

"This year, the Giro will be my major objective," he said in a virtual press conference by his team Groupama-FDJ.

Pinot, 30, finished in the top 10 on his Tour debut in 2012. He was third in 2014 when he also won the best young rider category and despite the early promise, he is still chasing another podium finish in a major tour.

He has hit a few magisterial highs in the Tour but there have been frequent lows as well. His three stage victories, all on mountainous days, include triumphs on two iconic peaks: the Tourmalet in 2019 and Alpe d'Huez in 2015.

He has also withdrawn from four of the eight Tours he has raced. In 2019, he was within two minutes of the lead when he abandoned, injured. Last year he crashed on the rainy first stage in Nice but struggled on to finish 29th overall.

This year's Tour starts with a week of flat stages and then climbs Mont Ventoux, which Pinot dislikes, twice on Stage 11.

"It wasn't the right route for me this year on the Tour. I will come back to it, I hope, as soon as 2022", he said.

Sprinter Arnaud Demare, left off the Tour squad the last two years as Groupama-FDJ focussed on Pinot, and climber David Gaudu will lead the team in the Tour.

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