Crash-hit Thomas fumes at mo­tor­bike drama

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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

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