Thibaut Pinot has announced he will not ride the 2021 Giro d'Italia as his back problems persist, saying he would just "unnecessarily suffer" for three weeks in Italy.
The Frenchman had opted for the Italian Grand Tour rather than his home one, refocusing after a couple of disappointing years at the Tour, suffering through the 2021 edition after crashing on stage one.
Having just completed the Tour of the Alps, a warm-up for next month's Giro, Pinot says he felt good at the start of each stage before the pain increased as the kilometres ticked by.
"I can’t hide from myself: I’m not in the medical condition to shine in the Giro. I would unnecessarily suffer and I would not be able to help the team," Pinot said.
"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."
Pinot will now re-focus once again on recovery, resuming the treatment he has been receiving for the past eight months, disappointed he won't be on the start line for his first Giro since 2018.
"It was mentally hard, I didn’t expect to be so far [away from the top] in the classifications. 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. 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," Pinot concluded.
"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," added team physician Jacky Maillot. "Unfortunately, the conclusions are clear: his sacroiliac inflammation, following his crash at 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."
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