The many tired legs in the Giro d’Italia peloton would doubtless have been glad had an early break gone clear and détente reigned on stage 11 to Savona, but instead the long haul into Liguria was marked by high speeds and heavy crashes.
Long after stage winner Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) had soloed to victory and Cadel Evans (BMC) had clambered onto to podium to don a fresh pink jersey, the wounded survivors of a trying day ghosted through the finish area on the Corso Tardy e Benech.
Indeed, two unfortunate riders didn’t even make it that far. Just 20 kilometres into the stage, Fabian Wegmann (Garmin-Sharp) was a faller, and he was taken by ambulance to hospital in Borgo Val di Taro, where an MRI examination showed up a detached tendon of the right biceps femoris muscle.
Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge), meanwhile, who was tipped as a contender for Thursday’s time trial from Barbaresco to Barolo, was also forced to bring his Giro to a premature halt, when he broke his right collarbone in a crash after 78 kilometres.
The most high-profile faller and the day’s biggest loser in general classification terms was Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), who was one of a number of riders to come down in the same incident as Durbridge, just as the peloton crossed from Emilia-Romagna into Piedmont. The Italian crossed the line 4:31 down on Rogers and slips from 6th to 21st in the overall standings.
“It’s nothing, I hurt my knee a bit but given the way the crash was, it could have gone a lot worse. I fell at over 50kph and I finished in a ditch with six or seven other riders,” said Ulissi, who had insult added to injury when he punctured in the finale after rejoining the bunch.
“On the climb it was hard and then I punctured just when I was pushing to get back up. Now with the doctors and masseurs we’ll try to put everything to rights,” Ulissi continued, before pedalling off for a control at the anti-doping van by the podium.
His former Lampre teammate Adriano Malori (Movistar) – the outright favourite for victory in the Barolo time trial – was another faller early in the stage, and crossed the finish muddied and bruised, with his kit shredded. The official medical bulletin for the stage listed Malori’s injuries as trauma to his right arm and shoulder, and bruises to his thorax and knees.
Salvatore Puccio (Sky) crossed the line with his face bloodied and his kit torn from falling in the same crash, but he reported no broken bones from the incident. “I took it a bit on the face and I’ve got some cuts and bruises too, but that’s cycling. It can happen,” Puccio told Cyclingnews as he drifted through the finish area and towards his team bus.
Chris Anker Sørensen’s injuries appeared more serious, however. The Tinkoff-Saxo rider suffered a concussion as a result of his crash, and he reached the finish line with his face and kit caked in mud, with multiple abrasions.
A crash after 172 kilometres, meanwhile, saw Dario Cataldo, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Steve Morabito (BMC) among the fallers. Morabito’s involvement saw BMC attempt to slow the pace at the head of the main field, and in spite of a disagreement with Androni-Venezuela over the matter, the Swiss rider managed to rejoin the peloton.
Meanwhile, neither the peloton nor time waited for Nicola Ruffoni (Bardiani-CSF) and Davide Appollonio (Ag2r-La Mondiale), who reached Savona over 38 minutes down on Rogers and outside of the time limit.