By Julien Pretot
NICE, France (Reuters) - Thibaut Pinot was left fuming after taking a heavy tumble near the finish line of the opening stage of the Tour de France on Saturday.
The Groupama-FDJ rider, one of the race favourites, had looked to have got away with an uneventful day while the slippery roads were sending dozens of other riders to the ground.
Yet he was eventually caught in a massive crash that left him with bruises to his leg and shoulder and the Frenchman will have little time to recover as Sunday's second stage features two punishing climbs designed to test the legs of the best.
"It was one of the worst days of my career," said Pinot. "It was like riding on an icy road."
Team doctor Jacky Maillot said Pinot suffered a bump on his knee and that his condition would be re-assessed on Sunday morning after the rider has been treated by the team's physiotherapists.
While he will be credited with the same time as the winner because the crash occurred within three kilometres of the finish, Pinot was left disgruntled by his opening mishap.
"He's angered, annoyed by his crash. There was a lot of tension all day long with the rain," Groupama-FDJ team manager Marc Madiot told reporters.
"So crashing about three kilometres from the line is upsetting -- but it's part of the race.
"He's okay. We'll see tomorrow but I don't think there's big damage."
Sports director Philippe Mauduit said that the consequences of the crash, if there are any, would be visible in the coming days.
Pinot started the Tour as one of the top favourites and hoping that he can become the first French rider to win the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985.
Last year, he had bested eventual champion Egan Bernal in the Pyrenees before a thigh injury ended his victory hopes two days from the finish in Paris.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ian Chadband)