Thibaut Pinot was forced to abandon the Tour de France in tears in the penultimate mountain stage of the race, having been a serious threat to the yellow jersey.
The Frenchman had been one of the key animators of the race over the last three weeks, starting stage 19 just 1-50 off the race lead.
But Pinot was left in tears as he was dropped from the peloton after just 35km of racing on the road to Tignes, as a knee injury put an end to his dreams.
As the popular Groupama-FDJ rider stepped off the bike, there was a major outpouring of support.
Pinot is believed to have suffered a muscle tear on stage 17 to Gap, after hitting his left thigh against a handlebar.
The injury continued to cause problems for Pinot on the ascent of the Galibier on stage 18, as he dealt with a sharp pain and struggled to walk in the evening.
He started stage 19 but visited the medical car early on, getting his leg re-bandaged just above the knee before going back to the team car.
Pinot then quickly slipped behind the peloton and was in tears as he was forced to step off the bike and get in the team car, with his team-mate Mathieu Ladagnous dropping back and offering a supportive shoulder.
The stage to the summit of Tignes provided the penultimate mountain day in the 2019 Tour, with the final summit finish to Val Thorens on stage 20 the final chance to break Alaphilippe’s hold on the yellow jersey before the Champs-Élysées.
Pinot had been riding his best Tour de France in years, having announced himself as one of the strongest riders in the 2019 edition after winning stage 14 at the summit of the Tourmalet.
He followed up this victory with a second place on stage 15, finishing at the summit of Prat d’Albis, where he took further time back on his GC rivals.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
Dan Bigham set to target Victor Campenaerts' Hour Record again
British record holder will aim for 55.090km in Grenchen, Switzerland next Friday
By Adam Becket • Published
Crossing countries with the new Garmin Edge 1040 Solar
How Garmin’s new flagship computer held up in CW’s race across Wales
By Cycling Weekly • Published