RBA/AFP – French cycling hope Thibaut Pinot told AFP on Friday that he would miss the Tour de France next month.
Pinot was forced to quit the Giro d’Italia in late May on the eve of the last stage fevered and weakened by pneumonia. He said he does not want to jeopardise his chances in two events later in the season, the Vuelta and the World Championships, where he believes he can do well.
“I resumed riding yesterday just to get on the bike and think of something else,” he said in his home in Lure, eastern France, on Friday. “I was riding for fun, to clear my head. The problem with this illness is that I don’t know when I can return.”
On the toughest stage of this year’s Giro, Pinot finished third into Bardonecchia to climb onto the podium. The next day, in the final mountain stage, he struggled on the climbs, lost 20 minutes and, after the finish, went not to Rome, for the final stage, but to a local hospital for treatment.
“The Friday was one of the great moments of my career with a legendary stage,” Pinot said. “That evening, I climbed onto the podium. I was confident. I only had to take care of the next day.”
“But on Saturday morning I knew. From the time I went to bed the previous evening, I was coughing and I only slept three or four hours. In the morning I did not feel well, feverish. I got over the first climb with the top riders, I don’t know how. But on the descent, despite the heat, I felt cold.” “That was the longest final 40 kilometres of my career,” he said of his struggle to the finish with the podium place slipping from his grasp.
In the Tour de France in 2015, Pinot finished third after winning the stage to Alpe d’Huez, but in the last two editions he was forced out of the Tour, weakened by illness. Pinot is targeting the Vuelta which starts on August 25 and a World Championships in Innsbruck, tailored for climbers, which starts on 30 September.