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Campenaerts blasts Giro d'Italia time trial as dangerous

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Belgian time trial specialist Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling) has slammed the Giro d’Italia's opening individual time trial for being "so dangerous".

Third in the opening prologue in Jerusalem two years ago, Campenaerts' chances of repeating that result or perhaps going better went up in smoke when he crashed on the first of two hairpins that were, he insisted, were full of oil.

The fourth rider to start, Campenaerts, like so many riders who started early, was battered by the gusting high winds. But the Belgian said his main issue was with the organisers' failure to clean the roads and the number of "bumps" in an uneven road surface.

"It’s so dangerous, the roads are full of oil," Campenaerts fumed as he slumped against the barriers at the finish, his right leg still bleeding.  

"It’s a bit like the roads in Mallorca, I’m sure the surfaces are not cleaned."

Comparing the course to the World Championships road surfaces in Italy last week, where he claimed bronze, Campaenerts said: "If you see the roads in Imola, they had a new surface over the whole parcours, the time trial and the road race. Over here they didn’t even have the time to clean it."

The former European and Belgian time trial champion said he was certain he was not going too fast into the corner where he crashed, rather that, "it’s just when you pick the wrong spot in the corner, you cannot see, it’s so stupid, it’s full of oil."

Campenaerts even admitted that he was happier that he did not have to go flat out in the final part, because he believed that, "with the bumps", the road, particularly after the hairpin bends where he crashed, was too dangerous to take risks. He even expressed fears that riders could be putting their Giro or even their careers on the line on such a course, if they crashed.

"It was almost an off-road ride, going there at 80 km/h, it was full of bumps and side- winds. I don’t think any of the riders can be happy with the parcours, and of course I’m not pleased with the result.

"If you compare this to the Netherlands, there the road surfaces are made for wet conditions. Of course it doesn’t rain so much over here, but if you organise a race and want 100 km/h speeds, please clean the surfaces."

Although most of the riders who set off later were able to enjoy less windy conditions, former double world time trial champion Rohan Dennis (Ineos Grenadiers) argued that he was sure "the end result would have been the same if there had been no wind", and that it was "the same for everybody".

The 60th rider off of the 176 starters, but who produced a below-expectations result, Dennis said he had not wanted to push his luck with so much of the Giro remaining.

"The first part I felt really good," Dennis told Eurosport, "but once we got down onto that long straight road it was too unpredictable, there were couple of times when my bike got caught and I actually had to stop pedalling because I thought I was going to go across the road into the fence.

"But there were no risks from there on. I was thinking about 21 stages - not one.”

While Dennis was taking the long view, Campenaerts was not so able to put things into perspective.

Asked if he could at least be pleased that the Giro was taking place given Italy’s massive early struggle with the coronavirus pandemic this spring, Campenaerts said that was a nice point of view to have. But, he added, "if you come and try to take the pink jersey and you crash out, I’m not happy to be at the Giro at the moment.

"Maybe tomorrow morning. But I don’t think I would be a professional if I can be happy with anything right now."

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.