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'I will need to win the Tour': Pinot on how to repair his Tour de France heartbreak

Joe Robinson
30 Jul 2019

The 29-year-old is still unsure what led to his heartbreaking Tour de France exit

The pictures of Thibaut Pinot in floods of tears barely able to pedal his bike before abandoning the Tour de France on Stage 19 did not leave a dry eye in the house.

The 29-year-old was riding the Tour of his life. Despite losing 1 minute 40 seconds in the crosswinds of Stage 10 to Albi, the Groupama-FDJ leader had battled back to recover the deficit.

He was unmatchable when taking victory on the Tourmalet on Stage 14 and a day later, on the road to Foix, he dropped all of his rivals to the summit. By that point, he had made back those 100 seconds he had lost.

Yet by the time the race had reached the Alps, Pinot was suffering from a knee injury that left him barely able to turn the pedals and before Egan Bernal had even had the chance to attack to the race win, Pinot had stepped off his bike.

France saw its best opportunity to win a Tour since 1985 disappear before their eyes as Pinot was left distraught, sitting in a team car in the middle of the Alps.

Two days on from the race finish in Paris, Pinot has had the chance to digest what happened to him and he spoke to French newspaper L'Equipe.

'I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this. I don’t understand,' Pinot said. 'I’ve done seven Tours and had four abandons, when on other races, I never abandon. It only happens on Grand Tours, even though they are my races.'

Pinot continued by saying that, 'To forget all this, all these struggles, only a win will do. A podium won’t suffice anymore.

'To forget all this, yes, I will need to win the Tour.'

Talking to fellow French newspaper Le Monde, Pinot confirmed he was unsure what had been the route cause of his pain, dismissing rumours that it came after a near-crash on Stage 17 to Gap, stating the pain only appeared on Stage 17. 

'The pain got worse on the Col d’Izoard, it was already very bad. On the Col du Lautaret, I was pedalling on one leg. We were in the big ring, with the wind at our backs, forcing it, and that really, really hurt,' Pinot said.

'I was only waiting for one thing, and that was to get onto the Galibier itself, where we could go onto the little ring and climb more with suppleness.'

Pinot was then asked whether he would have been able to match Bernal's accelerations in the Alps, which eventually led to his overall victory in Paris.

The Frenchman simply replied, 'We’ll never know, and I don’t want to ask myself that question. I was on one leg, that’s all.'

The full trials and tribulations of Pinot's Tour were also caught by France Televisions who were granted access to the rider throughout the race to shoot what turned out to be a lip-quivering documentary, which can be viewed here.

The question is what's next for Thibaut Pinot?

The rider turns 30 before the start of the next Tour de France and will probably look at returning to defend his Il Lombardia title this October while also having one eye on the Tokyo Olympics next Summer.

What is for sure, Pinot will back on the Tour start line in 12 months' time motivated more than ever to take home the yellow jersey.