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Frenchman Thibaut Pinot abandoned the Tour de France Friday just 40km into Stage 19 due to muscle tear in his left thigh.
The winner of Stage 14 atop the Tourmalet, Pinot was sitting fifth overall, 1:50 behind compatriot Julian Alaphilippe, at the start of Stage 19 from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Tignes.
After the group of GC favorites rode over the first of five climbs on the stage, the Côte de St-André, Pinot dropped back to the race’s medical car, where a doctor cut off a bandage on his left leg and hastily applied a new one.
That treatment didn’t help, however, and Pinot, 29, quickly dropped back to his Groupama-FDJ car to have it removed. He rode alone for another 10 kilometers, tears streaming down his face, before pulling off and climbing into the team car.
It was a scene reminiscent of the 2018 Giro d’Italia, when Pinot was forced to abandon the race after dropping from third overall on Stage 19 due to a high fever that was later diagnosed as pneumonia.
Groupama-FDJ issued a short statement on Twitter. “Thibaut suffers from a muscular lesion on his left thigh. Yesterday, he finished stage 18 with a sharp pain and had troubles walking in the evening. His condition didn’t improve today, he just withdrew from the #TDF2019.”
Pinot had been through a rollercoaster of a Tour which included gaining time on defending champion Geraint Thomas at La Planche des Belles Filles on Stage 6, and gaining more time with a late-race attack alongside Alaphilippe into Saint-Étienne on Stage 8, but then losing his advantage when caught out in the crosswinds on the narrow road to Albi on Stage 10. The popular Frenchman bounced back to take victory atop the Col du Tourmalet on Stage 14, putting him back in the frame for a shot at the overall win.