His early exit from the Spanish grand tour puts an end to a frustrating grand tour season for the 30-year-old GC contender.
“Despite the rest period he observed, the first two stages of the Vuelta have shown Thibaut Pinot continues to suffer from the back pain he experienced after his crash on the Tour de France,” a team statement read Thursday. “With regard to next season, priority is given to his complete recovery.”
Pinot rode well on both sides of the COVID-19 race stoppage, finishing fifth at Paris-Nice in March, and second at the Critérium du Dauphiné in August. Those results raised hopes he could match his top form he revealed in the 2019 Tour.
David Gaudu is the team’s other GC hope for the Vuelta, but he’s struggled in the explosive two opening stages and starts Thursday’s third stage 23rd overall at 3:20 back.
The Vuelta continues Thursday with the 166km third stage from Lodosa to La Laguna Negra de Vinuesa. The course features two climbs, including another hilltop finale, with ramps averaging 6.7 percent in the closing 6.5km of the stage. Overnight leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) said he expects another challenging day on the bike.
“It feels like we’ve already done something,” Roglič said at the start. “It was two days of hard racing, and the show goes on today. I don’t know today’s climb, but on paper, it seems like a hard climb on the final kilometers. There could be some wind and rain, so we have to follow the race.”