Pinot climbs to Milano-Torino victory

Thibaut Pinot wins Milano-Torino ahead of Miguel Ángel López and Alejandro Valverde

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) climbed to victory on Wednesday in Milano-Torino, among the oldest competitive cycling events in the world.

The 200-kilometer Italian one-day, a UCI 1.HC-rated event, is a true test for the climbers, featuring a steep finishing climb of roughly five kilometers.

Hungry to get more out of his season after a bout with pneumonia derailed his spring and summer aspirations, Pinot made the most of the opportunity.

After the day’s breakaway was reeled in, a number of attacks — from riders like Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) — whittled down the pack on the final climb. Pinot was able to follow the moves with the help of Groupama-FDJ teammate David Gaudu, who injected several turns of pace of his own to shell more riders off the back. The French duo rolled into the final kilometer and a half in a group of four, with newly crowned world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Astana’s Miguel Ángel López for company.

López looked to have something left in the tank for a final push, but his chance at victory went up in smoke with just over a kilometer to go. The Colombian picked the worst time to have a quick look behind, just as Gaudu was pulling off the front of the group and into his line. The ensuing collision saw both riders hit the deck, cutting the four-man lead group to two.

Pinot wasted little time in attacking Valverde, his lone remaining companion in front. The Frenchman charged into the final kilometer solo and stayed clear to take the win. López remounted and even passed Valverde, but was left to settle for second, wondering what might have been. The world champion rounded out the podium in third.

The main protagonists of the day will have another chance to square off soon. Thursday offers one final tune-up race in Gran Piemonte before the grand finale of both the Italian one-days and the 2018 classics as a whole, Il Lombardia. The season’s final monument sets out from Bergamo on Saturday.