Bettini loses big time on crash-marred day
Although three-time world champion Oscar Freire was delighted to once again return to his winning ways on the third stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, the good news was overshadowed by a crash-filled day that claimed the scalp of Paolo Bettini, the overnight leader forced to abandon the race.
At the 80km mark near Piano d'Orta, Danilo Di Luca's attack in windy conditions brought confusion behind as the peloton struggled to follow the wheel of the 2005 ProTour winner. Subsequently, a crash on a descent brought down race leader Bettini, his Quick.Step team-mate Davide Bramati, Andrea Tonti (Acqua & Sapone), Benat Albizuri (Euskaltel) and Lars Bak (CSC); Bettini and Bak were the most seriously injured, with the former escorted to the local hospital in Popoli.
Once there, Bettini was treated for cuts and abrasions, as well as undergoing an MRI of his pelvis and X-rays of his left knee and right ankle. Quick.Step team spokesman Alessandro Tegner told Cyclingnews that "the exams showed that Paolo Bettini has not broken anything. He has a major abrasions and bruising to his left hand and left hip, as well as right knee and right side of his chest. Paolo is in a lot of pain and will have further exams in the next few days, and it's impossible to say now if [Bettini] will compete in Milano-Sanremo."
Other riders who abandoned on Friday's stage included Lars Bak (Team CSC), Jaan Kirsipuu (Credit Agricole), Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon-Lotto) and Isaac Galvez Lopez (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears).