Lodosa (Spain) (AFP)

The French climber Thibaut Pinot, leader of the Groupama-FDJ formation, retired from the 3rd stage of the Tour of Spain on Thursday, once again putting an end to a season full of promise marred by an injury.

Third in the Tour de France in 2014, the Franc-Comtois thus continues his love-hate relationship with the Grand Tours, where he now has six stage wins (three in the Tour de France, two in the Vuelta, one in the Giro), but also seven withdrawals in thirteen participations.

A back injury got the better of his ambitions on both the Tour de France and the Tour d'Espagne.

While he was one of the favorites of the Grande Boucle, Pinot had fallen in Nice on August 29 from the 1st stage, and a runner had bumped into him while he was on the ground, permanently injuring his back (bruises and inflammation sacrum) without causing a fracture.

He then dragged his time on the Tour finishing 29th overall, unable to follow the best in the mountains but also to slip into a breakaway to aim for a stage victory.

The only joy was a home time trial on the eve of the arrival in Paris.

Insufficiently recovered, he first declined his selection for the Mondial hilly in Imola (Italy), where his compatriot Julian Alaphilippe was crowned.

On Thursday, he decided to dismount in the Vuelta where he had given up any ambition in the general classification after two stages (he was 63rd, 25 minutes and 19 seconds behind the leader Primoz Roglic).

- "Complete recovery" -

"After a phase of respite, the back pain which had handicapped Thibaut Pinot following his fall on the first stage of the Tour de France in Nice again greatly hampered him during the first and second stages of the Vuelta" , explained Groupama-FDJ.

"My back is still hurting me and you have to know how to stop the costs," Pinot wrote on his Facebook page.

"My 2021 season begins today and I will therefore see you next year," he continues.

"Priority is given to his full recovery for the year 2021: he will not start the 3rd stage on Thursday and put an end to the season," Groupama-FDJ also develops.

Fifth in Paris-Nice in March, last race before the season's break due to the health crisis, Pinot had nevertheless resumed with ambition and proved that he had the level of the best by finishing 2nd in the Criterium du Dauphiné in August , preparation race for the Tour de France.

Thibaut Pinot thus knows at 30 years another frustrating end to the season in a career marked by very highs and very lows.

In 2019, a show of strength in the Pyrenees - where he had shown himself superior to the future winner Egan Bernal - had led him to believe in a fate in yellow, before a mysterious muscle injury forced him to abandon the Tour de France, in tears, in the Alps, at the start of the 19th stage (he was then 5th overall, 1 min 50 behind Julian Alaphillipe).

The Franc-Comtois had also abandoned the Tour of Italy in 2018 because of an onset of pneumonia, while he was on the provisional podium two days from the finish.

He then bounced back by winning two stages of the Tour of Spain then the Tour of Lombardy, one of the five "Monuments" cyclist, at the end of the season.

Presented as the potential successor to Bernard Hinault on the Tour de France prize list (last French winner in 1985), Thibaut Pinot will once again have to bounce back to give himself a new chance to shine on a grand tour, but also potentially at the Tokyo Olympics. .

© 2020 AFP