VAISON-LA-ROMAINE, France, July 16, 2013 – French hopes of seeing a
home stage winner on the Tour de France were hit on Tuesday when climbing
specialist Thibaut Pinot pulled out before the start of the 16th stage.
The Francaise des Jeux rider, who won the stage to Porrentruy and finished
10th overall on his debut last year, has been suffering from a throat
infection in recent days.
His brother and coach Julien Pinot said: “We had no choice. Yesterday
(Monday) he wasn’t showing any signs of improvement. We wanted to see how he
was overnight but he had a fever again.
“It just wasn’t possible for him to start.”
The 16th stage is considered a medium-mountain stage and takes the peloton
from Vaison-La-Romaine over 168km to Gap.
After the second and final time trial of the race on Wednesday, a hilly
32km race against the clock, the Tour moves into the high Alps for three tough
days of racing that will decide overall victory.
Britain’s Chris Froome (Sky) started the 16th stage in the yellow jersey
with a lead of 4min 14sec on Dutchman Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and 4:25 on
former two-time winner Alberto Contador of Spain, who rides for Saxo.
Thibot was sitting in 52nd place overall, more than an hour behind Froome,
before he pulled out.