The dream run that race leader Taylor Phinney (BMC) was hoping for with the pink jersey on his back almost turned into a nightmare when he crashed with eight kilometers to go in stage 2 of the 2012 Giro d'Italia. He lost significant time as he struggled to get his chain back on, but his teammate Danilo Wyss eventually dragged him back to the peloton in time for the bunch sprint, which enabled him to hang on to the overall lead.
“I was in the first 10 positions in the peloton”, the 21-year-old American said. “There were three or four riders right in front of me and I don’t know what happened. Someone hit the brakes in front, and I lost my balance. I was the only guy to go down.
"That’s cycling - things happen in a second. I was back on my bike right away but my chain was down. The effort to get it back on was taxing, so I was happy to get back to the front. When I saw the finishing line with Alessandro Ballan and Danilo Wyss, I was relieved.”
Phinney is experiencing the magic of leading a Grand Tour for the first time. Now it has finally sunk in.
“It took me a bit of time to fall asleep after the time trial," he said on the start line in Herning this morning. “At breakfast, I finally realized what happened. For me, the pink jersey of the Giro d’Italia is just as big as the yellow jersey of the Tour de France."
At the finish he said, “I enjoyed the first 20km when it was relaxed, but for the rest of the stage, I was on edge. A lot of people told me, ‘enjoy your time in pink’, but it was nervous and stressful."
"I just wanted to stay at the front, to stay up right. I was more nervous than I’d usually be. I think I’ll be more comfortable tomorrow. I’ve got to get my crash out the way. I’m still in pink. I’ll take things day by day. That’s the plan. If I crash again tomorrow, I’ll be more relaxed.
“I’d like to keep the pink jersey until we get to Italy”, he said as he looked ahead to Wednesday's team time trial stage in Verona. A duel is expected between BMC and Garmin-Barracuda.