The Cannondale team was left to lick its wounds and wonder what had happened after crashing at speed during the time trial stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, causing team leader Rigoberto Uran to lose 2:03 and virtually any chance of overall victory in this year's race.
The eight Cannondale riders from the team were on a straight section of road after 6.5km of the 22.7km time trial, when something caused them their pace to drop, sparking the crash. Team leader Rigoberto Uran, Ramunas Navardauskas, Sebastian Langeveld and Kristjan Koren hit the road, leaving them with holes in the skin suits. Fortunately none of them were seriously injured and Uran and Koran got up quickly and managed to join up with their teammates. The team finished last in the results, 2:03 behind stage winner BMC.
Team time trials are a high-risk discipline, with riders forced to walk a thin line between riding closely together at high speed and crashing hard. The previous incarnations of the Cannondale team have had a painful and unfortunate record in recent years in team time trials. In the early days the team was one of the best in the world and won team time trials at the 2008 Giro d'Italia and the 2011 Tour de France. However the team crashed at the Vuelta a Espana in 2013, at the 2014 Giro d'Italia in Northern Ireland, and at the 2015 Giro del Trentino.
"We started out strong, we were really fast. At one point on the race course, something happened in the middle of the group between riders," directeur sportif Fabrizio Guidi explained in a statement from the team.
"They touched each other and four guys crashed. We were forced to stop and wait for the fifth."
Guidi tried to comfort his riders back at the team bus as riders warmed down on the rollers and tried to ease the pain in their legs.
"We will talk about what happened this afternoon, but then we need to move forward," Guidi added. "The group is disappointed, but it doesn't matter. We need to be focused and stay focused on the next stages and be confident in our strengths."
Guidi confirmed that Uran is out of overall contention. The Colombian will no doubt target a stage victory, with the likes of Davide Formolo, Simon Clarke and Navardauskas also on form and able to fight for victory on the hilly stage finishes on stage two to Pomerance on Thursday and in the later stages.
"It's a pity we crashed and lets hope that Rigoberto Uran is okay. I'm sure he'll bounce back," Formolo told Cyclingnews.
"We'll never give up fight and we'll only judge how things have gone at the end of the race. We'll keep racing hard and give it 100% percent right to the end."