Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) has a tattoo on his arm that says in Italian, “Solo la vittoria è Bella” – “Only victory is beautiful” – and the Frenchman was delighted to finally add an Italian semi-Classic to his palmarès with victory at Milano-Torino on Wednesday.

Pinot is French to the core, but he loves racing in Italy, preferring aggressive, open racing to the tactics and expectation of the Tour de France.

“I want to win every race, and I think my wins in Italy are my greatest,” Pinot explained in French, but promising to learn a little more Italian with each success.

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“I love racing in Italy, from starting the season with Tirreno-Adriatico and then ending it with Il Lombardia. This final 10-day block of racing that leads to Il Lombardia is my favourite.”

Pinot has always performed south of the Alps, dating back to his amateur days and his breakout victory at the 2009 Giro della Valle d’Aosta. As a young professional in 2011, Pinot claimed the Settimana Lombarda, attracting covetous glances from Italian teams. More recently, he was third at Il Lombardia in 2015 and fifth last year. It is the only Monument Classic he has ever ridden.

When it comes to the Italian Grand Tour, Pinot won a stage of the 2017 Giro d’Italia and finished fourth overall. This season he was fighting with Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) for a Giro podium spot until pneumonia struck after the final mountain stage. He fought to finish in Cervinia but was unable to travel to Rome for the final parade stage and even spent several days in hospital in Italy.

A show of form before Il Lombardia

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