Crash-hit Thomas fumes at motorbike drama
BLOCKHAUS: Britain’s Geraint Thomas hit out at organisers on Sunday after he and Sky teammate Mikel Landa fell victim to a crash caused by a police motorbike that virtually ended their Giro d’Italia hopes.
“I don’t know what to say, except it’s ridiculous,” said Thomas, whose shoulder “popped out” in the spill before the final climb to the summit finish of Blockhaus on stage nine.
Thomas, who was co-leading Sky’s bid for the race’s pink jersey alongside Spanish teammate Landa, began the 149km ride from Montenero di Bisaccia only six seconds behind overnight leader Bob Jungels of Quick Step.
Both the Welshman and Landa were firmly in contention as the peloton prepared to begin the 13.6km climb to the summit of the climb that saw Belgian legend Eddy Merckx claim his first win on the Italian race, in 1967.
But both Sky riders saw their hopes dashed when Dutchman Wilco Kelderman clipped a police motorcycle that was parked on the left side of the road.
Kelderman came down, suffering a fracture to a finger on his left hand that ended his race, and brought Thomas and several others down as well.
Thomas and Landa bravely got back on their bikes to complete the stage. The Welshman battled all the way to finish five minutes behind stage winner and new race leader Nairo Quintana of Movistar but dropped to 17th overall, while Landa tumbled down the standings after finishing over 26 minutes in arrears.
Thomas added: “We were all racing, then someone in front of me hits a motorbike. My shoulder popped out.
“I felt good but then I crashed, and my race was over.”
It is not the first time in recent years riders have suffered directly as a result of incidents with motorbikes involved in the race.
At last year’s Tour de France, organisers re-set the stage times for Australian Richie Porte, Britain’s Chris Froome and Dutchman Bauke Mollema after they crashed into a motorbike on Mont Ventoux.
On the race’s 100th edition, Giro organisers were feeling less charitable — although the general feeling in the peloton on Sunday was one of anger.
“I don’t know what the stupid motorbike was doing there,” said Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, who has been left without teammate Kelderman, notably for the decisive third week of the race.
Although he battled on the climb to finish third at 24 seconds behind Quintana and move up to third overall, trailing the Colombian by 51 seconds, his race almost ended too.
“I’m so disappointed. I could just (manage to) avoid it, I saw it at the last moment but I was lucky that I was two centimetres to the right of Wilco.
“They say it happens but it shouldn’t happen.”
Sky boss Dave Brailsford rallied his troops and vowed they will “fight on.”
But he added: “The moto shouldn’t have been there but, equally, I’m sure the guy driving it knows that too.
“We leave it at that, but we have to go back and ask why it happened.”
Yesterday was a rest day in the race, which resumes today with a stage 10 time trial over 39.8km in the Sagrantino wine-growing region. AFP