The Tour de France is only a week away, but for Thibaut Pinot it again turns out to be a bitter disappointment. Prior to the Tour Pinot was one of the favourites for the final victory, but had to abandon the peloton on Saturday at the Port de Balès, an outdoor climb, without any clear cause.
“I have such a backache that I can hardly put any strength”, the disillusioned Frenchman reacted and crossed the line almost twenty minutes after the other favourites.
Hope of the French
Pinot (30) made his Tour debut in 2010 with a tenth place in the general classification and was immediately bombed to the hopes of all the French, who yearn for the first French Tour winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985.
He’s never been able to live up to those expectations. Fear of descents and seemingly endless setbacks never brought him further than third place in 2014. That podium finish, in addition to three stage wins over the years, has been his best performance in the Tour so far. In 2014 he was also the best youngster and was in the white jersey on the Champs-Élysées.
Now that he won’t win the Tour again, Pinot doubts openly about his future, without being very concrete about how to proceed. “This may be a turning point in my career. For me, racing has always been a struggle and a pleasure. Winning races. But this is too much setback.”
Fall in opening drive
Pinot’s back problems already started in the first stage when the winner of the 2018 Tour of Lombardy suddenly found himself on the asphalt in the final stage. In the sprint in the streets of Nice Pinot went down. He didn’t lose any time for the general classification, but still he came out battered.
Nevertheless, giving up is not an option. “I’m not getting off the Tour. That didn’t occur to me for a moment. But it’s been a tough day. I want to apologize to my teammates and the people who support me, because this is disappointing for everyone”
Tears in the team car
Last year on the second rest day Pinot was one of the top favorites to win the Tour. He was the strongest in the stage to the Col du Tourmalet and could decide the Tour of the Alps.
However, two days before Paris, before landslides and mudslides ended the trip to Tignes, there had to be a break from that dream.
Pinot got off with a thigh injury and crying he disappeared in the team car at the beginning of the nineteenth stage.