Pinot's Tour de France ambitions dealt a blow by Arnold Jeannesson's absence

Thibaut Pinot's Tour de France ambitions were dealt a blow on Monday as Arnold Jeannesson, a key FDJ domestique, announced he will not be there to support him in July.

Jeannesson crashed at the Grand Prix de la Somme, falling on his face and breaking a tooth, which ruled him out of the Giro d’Italia in May. He returned at the Critérium du Dauphiné last week hoping to find his legs again but pulled out on stage 6, struggling for form and confidence. 

"After riding the first five stages of the Dauphiné, we set out on the sixth stage stage in the rain on a hilly route with more than 3800 metres of elevation, and I didn’t have the strength to finish the stage," the Frenchman said on his website.

"I abandoned in the feed zone after 110km of racing. I therefore left the Dauphiné disappointed because I came with good physical condition in the hope of preparing for the Tour de France, but after my last crash I was scared of being in the peloton and I stayed at the back.

"I take no pleasure in finding stages never-ending. My programme is going to be cut down and after the French national championships I am going to take a holiday. I will therefore not do the Tour de France this year."

Jeannesson was a key lieutenant for Pinot in the mountains in last year's Tour de France, where the 25-year-old rode to a hugely impressive third place. There are high hopes for him again this time around, especially with a mountainous final portion of the race, and his teammate's decision comes as a blow just under three weeks from the Grand Départ in Utrecht. 

It is not just the Tour de France, though, that Jeannesson might miss. At the end of his downbeat message, the 29-year-old went as far as to cast doubts over his future as a professional cyclist.

"I am going to have to rediscover my confidence and sense of pleasure on the bike during the second part of the season if I want to continue to do this job," he concluded.

Pinot has gone through his own battles with confidence on the bike. In the 2013 Tour de France, he lost his nerve on the descent of the Col de Pailhères and lost six minutes. He questioned his place in the Tour, but with practice and some help from FDJ manager Marc Madiot and race car driver Max Mamers he has overcome his fears.

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