A tale of two crashes for Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Ineos) on stage 3 of the Giro d'Italia. The first, with around 50 kilometres remaining, left him with a cut to his right knee and short but wholehearted chase to regain the peloton. The second, with a little over four kilometres to go, proved rather more costly, leaving the Briton with further abrasions, a shredded jersey and a deficit of 1:28 at day's end.
After catching the eye with a fine display to take seventh in Saturday's opening time trial in Bologna, Geoghegan Hart drops 50 places to 57th on general classification, 2:03 off maglia rosa Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). Geoghegan Hart's wounds prevented him from warming down with his teammates outside the Ineos bus after the stage, but team doctor Derick Macleod later confirmed that the 24-year-old had not sustained serious injury.
"There's no head injury and nothing to indicate anything is broken. It could have been a lot worse," Macleod said in a statement issued later on Monday evening.
As ever on fraught and fast finales such as this, the team car offers a limited vantage point. On arriving at the Ineos team bus after the finish, directeur sportif Nicolas Portal was aware that Geoghegan Hart had been held up in two separate incidents in the final hour of racing, but the Frenchman admitted that was still trying to piece together the story of the day when he spoke to reporters.
"In the first crash, I don't know what happened because we didn't talk about it as it was quite fast. He changed his bike there," Portal said. "Then in the second one, we still don't know what happened. "The first one was definitely a crash because we could see his knee and everything.
"In the second one he was already on the bike when we saw him, but I know that he put his foot on the ground at least. Sometimes you avoid it and go in the field and sometimes you end up crashing, two times. It's part of the game and part of the things they need to learn. He's going to be quite disappointed."
In the absence of the injured Egan Bernal, who sustained a broken collarbone in a training crash a week before the race, Geoghegan Hart is co-leader of Ineos' general classification challenge on this Giro together with fellow youngster Pavel Sivakov. The pair shone at the Tour of the Alps, where Sivakov won the overall title and Geoghegan Hart placed second, winning three stages between them in the process.
Sivakov came through Monday's finale unscathed, and he lies 19th overall, 1:01 down on Roglic. Geoghegan Hart, who was paced home by teammates Eddie Dunbar, Salvatore Puccio and Sebastian Henao, lies a further minute back. Portal evinced optimism, however, noting that such gaps will count for little in the final reckoning, pointing to Chris Froome's troubled opening to last year's Giro.
"You have to think about last year with Froome, he did not lose his mind. And then on stage 1 of the Tour he crashed and lost some time and still finished third overall," Portal said. "Three weeks is a long race. These guys are super strong men and they are learning from the others and the others are quite tough. You will be a little bit disappointed in this moment but you would use this to be even stronger."