The Giro d'Italia started in an unlucky fashion for Israel Start-Up Nation on Saturday. After finishing 105th in the opening time trial in Turin, Krists Neilands crashed en route to the team hotel and broke his collarbone. Now, the Latvian is out of the race and will need surgery, leaving team leader Dan Martin with one less rider at his side in the three-week race.
Israel Start-Up Nation confirmed the news via Twitter, saying Neilands crashed en route to the hotel. Scans taken at a hospital confirmed the fracture.
Neilands took the team's first major success in last year's Tour de France when he was awarded the combativity prize on stage 4. It was Israel Start-Up Nation's first podium appearance in the Grand Tour.
Martin said before the Giro d'Italia that if he could get to the final stage in Milan "without bad luck" and in good health, he could be a contender. His performance on Saturday was perhaps less than ideal and losing Neilands will put him at a disadvantage to his rivals later in the race.
Martin finished well behind his general classification rivals in the 8.6km time trial, finishing 57 seconds behind stage winner Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) and losing 40 seconds to the best overall contender, João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quickstep).
The team's best placed finisher, Austrian champion Mathias Brändle, was ninth on the stage.
"This was a very fast course, but it was actually a quite technical one, too," Brändle said. "You really had to pay attention at all times to take the corners properly. Personally, I had a really good day on the bike. I started well and I could keep the pace high all the time. At the end, I made top-10, so this was definitely a good start. Now, we look forward to the rest of the race!"
The Giro d'Italia continues with 183 riders on Sunday for a likely bunch sprint finish on the flat 179km stage from Stupinigi to Novara.
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