I'm amazed I didn't break anything

Three crashes but I'm still in good shape

I have had more crashes here in the last three stages than in the whole of any other Grand Tour I’ve done, starting with one close to the signing-on in the Bari stage and finishing - so far - with that big one yesterday [stage six].

The first crash happened when I was going at about one kilometre an hour, it had just started to rain and I was on these typical smooth Italian paving stones and bang! I came down. (Orica-GreenEdge rider) Ivan Santaromita went down as well at exactly the same time in exactly the same place.

The second was on the climb at the finish [of stage five], on the first lap we went through there and then the third was - obviously - in that huge crash yesterday [stage six.] I’m just amazed I’ve not broken anything. I went down at 60 kilometres an hour and went skidding along the ground for quite a period of time. I’ve got bruising, but nothing is broken.

It was an awful crash. I guess the number of riders who are injured must be a very long one. What happened to me was that the riders ahead of me went down and I got pushed over by riders coming up behind, so I fell. It’s one of those situations where you’re trapped in the middle of it, you can’t do anything and all you can do is wonder - as you’re falling - what the heck is going to happen to you. It was a really big crash. We were going very, very fast at the time and then I heard somebody hit a patch of petrol. Total chaos: or as the Italians say un casino [a real mess].

Some people say it happened because of the road narrowing down for the roundabout. But I don’t think so. When the road simply gets narrower, everybody brakes, they know what they have to do to avoid a crash and everybody gets round it. But when a road is very slippery, and somebody brakes, if there’s petrol on the road then everybody goes down.

The thing is when somebody at the front of the bunch crashes, then everybody crashes. And almost everybody did crash, apart from 10 or 12 riders.

Then the problem isn’t that you crash yourself, I don’t tend to have crashes, it’s when somebody rides into you from behind and they make you fall. When there’s a crash like that, you’ve nowhere to go, the guys ahead go down, the ones behind hear it happening and that’s it. But I’ve never crashed so many times in such a short period of time in a Grand Tour.

But hey, I got through. I was one of the lucky ones. There’s nothing broken. I could get up quickly, saw my bike was all right and I went on. My radio was still working, and then in those circumstances you’re all talking, asking questions and answering, all 19 to the dozen - ‘who’s fallen? who’s ahead? who’s behind? Cadel’s ahead? ok, ok, keep going, keep going, watch out at the entrance to Cassino, it [the road surface] is bad, stay focused, the road’s still slippery’ - then I just kept going.

Beyond that, I’m in pretty good shape myself. The team capo [leader - Cadel Evans] is in very good shape too and going well, we didn’t fall off and we have to go on working. It’s day by day, things can always go wrong at any point. We’ve only been racing six days and it feels like we’ve been in this race for at least two weeks!

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