Groupama-FDJ team leader Thibaut Pinot has been ruled out of this year's Giro d'Italia due to lingering back issues. The Frenchman was originally aiming for the maglia rosa this year after a bruising 2020 that saw him crash and suffer through the Tour de France, and then abandon the Vuelta a España after just two stages.
The injuries sustained in his Tour de France crash still linger and with questionable form and persistent pain over the last few weeks, the rider and his team have decided that the 30-year-old needs further time to recover. The Giro d'Italia starts on May 8 with a 9km time trial in Turin.
"I can't hide from myself: I'm not in the medical condition to shine in the Giro," Pinot said in a statement released by his team.
"I would unnecessarily suffer and I would not be able to help the team. It's not even a question of shape, but the pain in my back prevents me from performing well. It's hard to explain. At the beginning of a stage it works, I even managed to get into the breakaway on the last day of this Tour of the Alps. Unfortunately, the more the kilometers go by, the more the pain increases and at some point, I am too sore to force myself. Tuesday was a very bad day for me. It was mentally hard, I didn't expect to be so far in the classifications."
Pinot finished 60th overall in the Tour of the Alps on Friday, over 25 minutes down on winner Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange). He finished 35th in the Haut Var at the start of the year and then followed that with 43rd in Tirreno-Adriatico in March.
"Giving up crossed my mind but I am a competitor, I wanted to go to the end of the test, I needed to, in order not to have any regrets," he said in relation to his Tour of the Alps performance.
"Every day I gave everything. Not racing in the Giro d'Italia is heartbreaking, we did everything to be there! We really did our utmost so that I could ride at my best. I'm disappointed but I'm focused on the next step. I am only thinking about healing myself, leaving these back problems behind me, competing at my usual level and fighting with the best. "
Team boss, Marc Madiot, would not put a time frame on Pinot's recovery but his rider could in theory still race either the Tour de France or Vuelta a España later this season. David Gaudu is set to lead the team's GC challenge at the Tour for the first time this summer.
"We did everything we could so Thibaut Pinot could come back to his actual level," Madiot said.
"We are disappointed but we can't regret, neither him nor us, that we wanted to believe. He fought until the end on this Tour of the Alps but his body will not allow him to compete with the best for three weeks. Thibaut is going through something, we will of course give him the necessary time to come back. We will continue to accompany him in his convalescence, he has the confidence and support of the entire Groupama-FDJ cycling team."
Team doctor Jacky Maillot added that Pinot would go for further medical tests in the coming days.
"In the recent weeks, we have seen a gradual improvement in Thibaut's training. We knew that the Tour of the Alps would give us some answers. Unfortunately, the conclusions are clear: his sacroiliac inflammation, following his crash in the last Tour de France, still prevents him from riding at very high intensity despite all the treatments he received. Further investigations with new specialists in this field are scheduled for next week," Maillot said.
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