Citing back pain, the French star could not match the pace of the GC favorites on the hors categorie climb about midway up the first major climbing stage of the 2020 Tour. He later limped across the finish line 64th at more than 25 minutes behind the winner.
“I have so back pain that I cannot pedal,” Pinot said on French TV. ” It’s a complicated year, but I never thought about leaving the race. Maybe it’s a turning point of my career. There are too complications for me right now. The Tour continues. The team is very strong, so hopefully we can win some stages.”
Pinot’s teammates draped in him in support as he dropped off the pace and struggled up the Balès climb. Pinot fell out of contention, slipping to 30th at 18:56 back.
Pinot came into the Tour confident for success, but crashed in the opening stage.
“It’s a continuation of the same story since stage 1. The damage was done there,” said team manager Marc Madiot. “On the flats, we could manage to hide it there, but in the mountains, it was more difficult. We already knew we were not at the same level as we were at the Dauphiné.”
The setback come after his heartbreak abandon in last year’s Tour in the Alps.