Thibaut Pinot will make his Giro d'Italia debut...

Frenchman Pinot targets Giro’s pink jersey for 2017

Thibaut Pinot, 26, finished third in the 2014 Tour de France but has never raced the Giro.

PARIS (AFP) — French climbing specialist Thibaut Pinot will make the Giro d’Italia his top priority for the 2017 season, the FDJ cyclist said Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Pinot, third in the 2014 Tour de France, will be one of the favorites to clinch an overall victory in Italy in May.

“The stages on the Giro suit me better than on the Tour de France, but the pressure will be just the same,” said Pinot, who climbed to a rousing hero’s reception at the Alpe d’Huez mountain stage at the 2015 Tour.

“For the Tour de France we’ll see how I am after the Giro, I may target the polka-dot (best climber’s) jersey,” he added.

Known essentially as a dogged climber, the FDJ team leader has honed his time trialling in recent seasons but is a nervy descender, and next year’s Tour de France is heavy on downhill finishes.

Pinot’s team boss Marc Madiot felt the time was right for his protege to take part in his first Giro after five Tour de France appearances.

“It’s a bit like playing an away game at football,” Madiot said. “But it really looks like the right year for him to go to the Giro.”

The Giro’s 100th edition embarks from Sardinia May 5 and features more of a pure climber’s route.