Tignes - Trailing behind the peloton in tears, French cyclist Thibaut Pinot pulled out of the Tour de France with a thigh problem an hour into stage 19 on Friday.
The FDJ contender for overall victory was in fifth place at the start of a stage which suited his qualities, the second of three tough Alpine rides. He was poised just 1min 50sec adrift of the leader Julian Alaphilippe and within 20sec of the other riders ahead of him.
Pinot first called for medical assistance to get strapping on his left thigh, but soon appeared to be in an emotional state as he began to drift further behind.
When he dismounted from his bike he ended a roller-coaster ride which included gaining time on defending champion Geraint Thomas at La Planche des Belles Filles climb and then losing his advantage when caught in a crosswind on the narrow road to Albi, where he ended the day in an emotional state.
But the widely popular 29-year-old can look back on a memorable Tour that included victory atop the first Pyrenean climb to the summit finish triumph at La Col du Tourmalet, where his acclaimed performance put him back in the frame for a tilt at the overall title.