Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) has admitted that his hopes of overall success at the Tour de France are over for another year after he cracked during stage 7 on the Col d'Aspin and lost three minutes to the other overall contender.
Pinot was unable to hold the pace on the steady slopes of the first Pyrenean climb. He gradually slipped off the back and finished six minutes down on stage winner Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) and three minutes down on the front group of 40 riders.
Pinot was pursued by the many French media at the Tour but was brutally honest about his form. It seems his FDJ team had known he was not performing well but tried to set a steady tempo on the col d'Aspin. However Pinot's so far unexplained lack of form was soon exposed.
"I simply didn't have the legs. There's no need to look for excuses," Pinot said in his deep but now saddened voice. "This is the third time I've lost when the Tour has arrived first in the Pyrenees. There's nothing else to say."
Pinot admitted he was simply not in peak form.
"I'm in the same form as I was in the Dauphine. I'm not 100 per cent, and in the Tour you have to be 100 per cent. Of course, it's a pity my season has crumbled away. The Tour is the highlight of the season and now from the first mountain stage, the objective is over. It is not a matter of preparation. We looked to reach our peak for the Ventoux, but we're not machines. To program a peak is more easily said than done."
Pinot was not optimistic that his Tour could turn around and will have to change his goals and try to win a stage.
"We'll see what happens tomorrow but if it's like today, then there won't be any surprise," clearly totally demoralised.
FDJ team manager Marc Madiot was also forced to accept that Pinot was far from his best. He insisted it was physical and not mental.
"He's not at his best and now we'll try to find out why. We tried to set a steady pace on the climb but it didn't work out. We've still got Reichenbach up there and so we'll see what we can do with him. There's not much else to say."
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