Geraint Thomas’s ambitions to win the Giro d’Italia were left in tatters on Monday after a seemingly banal fall eventually took a heavy toll on a hard day of racing.
On the high slopes of Europe’s biggest volcano Mount Etna, the stage itself was won by little-known Ecuadorian Jonathan Caicedo, survivor of an early break.
“There was suffering and pain, but I made a dream come true,” Caicedo said after the race.
Another outsider, Portugal’s Joao Almeida, took the overall leader’s pink jersey largely due to his strong showing in the individual time trial on Saturday.
Thomas’s accident happened during the pre-race parade when he ran over a discarded water bidon and fell heavily on his left side.
“As the stage continued he felt better,” Ineos sports director Matteo Tosatto said. “But as the pace increased and the climbs got steeper he had some pain and had to finish the stage at his own pace.”
“Geraint crashed on his left side, so he took a significant blow to the back of his left hip and he has some abrasions on his left arm and leg. After the stage he was taken for x-rays at the finish,” said Ineos team doctor Phil Riley. “The initial x-rays didn’t show anything broken, but we are awaiting confirmation in the morning. We will treat him tonight, continue to monitor him and then review it in the morning again.”
Of the potential contenders to win the Giro, Thomas started the day in the strongest position, but ended it 11 minutes and 17 seconds off the pace and with almost no hope of making that time back.
“It’s still a long Giro. We have Filippo [Ganna] and Rohan [Dennis] with some good chances in the time trials,” Tosatto said.
But after a poor Tour de France 2020 has become a write off for Ineos, formerly SKY, who dominated cycling for a decade coming into this season.
Another British rider, Simon Yates of Mitchelton-Scott, also had a bad day and stands at three minutes and 46 seconds adrift of the leader.
“There’s no way of explaining it,” said Yates director Matt White. “You can only put it down to a bad day.”
With Thomas and Yates out of the equation, focus now falls on two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali and Denmark’s Jakob Fuglsang.
“I saw Thomas fall but we never expected that. Same for Yates, I’m stunned that this happened on these slopes,” said Nibali, who won the Giro in 2013 and 2016.
“Victory on a Grand Tour is built day by day, so while today’s events went my way, I’ll be keeping my feet on the ground for now,” said the Italian Trek rider.
Tuesday’s Stage 4 150K run from Catana features a 19.5K ascent at four percent average incline.
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