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VAISON-LA-ROMAINE, France (AFP) — French hopes of seeing a home stage winner at the 2013 Tour de France took a hit on Tuesday when climbing specialist Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) pulled out before the start of the 16th stage.
Pinot, who won a stage and finished 10th overall on his debut last year, has been suffering from a throat infection in recent days.
His brother and coach Julien Pinot said: “We had no choice. Yesterday he wasn’t showing any signs of improvement. We wanted to see how he was overnight but he had a fever again.
“It just wasn’t possible for him to start.”
The 16th stage is considered a medium-mountain stage and takes the peloton from Vaison-La-Romaine over 168km to Gap.
After the second and final time trial of the race on Wednesday, a hilly 32km race against the clock, the Tour moves into the high Alps for three tough days of racing that will decide the overall winner.
Britain’s Chris Froome (Sky) started the 16th stage in the yellow jersey with a lead of 4:14 over Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Belkin), and 4:25 over two-time winner Alberto Contador of Spain, who rides for Saxo-Tinkoff.
Pinot was sitting in 52nd place overall, more than an hour behind Froome, before he pulled out.