What the Giro d’Italia giveth, it taketh away. In Ischia on Sunday, Michele Scarponi’s Lampre-Merida squad limited the climber’s losses in the team time trial to just 22 seconds. At Marina di Ascea on Monday – on rolling terrain where Scarponi hoped to recoup ground – a crash on the final descent cost him a minute and severely dented his podium hopes.
With barely five kilometres left to race, Scarponi was sitting in third place in the chase group as Blanco pair Steven Kruijswijk and Robert Gesink led the chase behind eventual winner Luca Paolini (Katusha). When the two Dutchman almost overshot a right-hand bend, however, Scarponi tumbled to the ground as he tried to correct his own trajectory.
“They skidded in front of me and I touched my brakes instinctively, and I ended up falling myself,” said Scarponi, who was quickly back on his feet but then had to endure a lengthy wait for a replacement bike, as his rear mech was broken during the crash. “I had to wait a bit for Simone Stortoni to get up to me, but that happens.”
After Stortoni came past and handed over his machine, Scarponi was left to give desperate chase with just Przemyslaw Niemiec for company and they reached the finish some 44 seconds down on Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and the other overall favourites.
“It was a very attacking stage and was going quite well for me. I think that we could even have got back up to Paolini but that happens. It’s just a pity that I had this accident,” Scarponi said. “It’s unfortunate too that I lost a bit of time.”
On a sinuous finale that had seen Nibali and Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) go on the offensive, Scarponi had managed to remain on level pegging his fellow overall contenders and was looking to strike a small blow of his own on the plunge into Marina di Ascea when his wheels slipped from under him.
“Sometimes that can happen when you’re caught behind but I was in front, so what can you do?” Scarponi said forlornly. “I don’t even know how much I’ve lost but they’re certainly seconds that I’ve just given away.”
Scarponi reported only superficial injuries on crossing the line, with a scuffed right shoulder and grazes on his right arm, but the damage to his overall ambitions – though far from over – is of greater concern. He now lies over a minute behind Wiggins with a 55-kilometre time trial to come on Sunday.
Asked where he could recoup the time lost in Campania, Scarponi shrugged as he rolled towards his team bus. “I don’t know where I can recover it,” he said. “But I don’t want to give up either.”