On the longest day of the 2014 Giro d'Italia, which had been lengthened by a further 10km due to landslides, the peloton was just 3km from starting the climb to Montecassino when disaster struck. Eight riders at the front of the main bunch, including maglia rosa Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge), made it through unscathed while in their wake, were riders strewn across the wet road.
A crash on the left hand side-of-the-road had the attention of the TV cameras but a much larger crash further up the road on the entry to a roundabout was the real battlefield were overall hopes lay in tatters
For Tinkoff-Saxo, the stage on paper didn't appear to be one that would affect the teams approach to the Giro. However, Rafal Majka, Pawel Poljanski, Ivan Rovny and Nicolas Roche all hit to the ground with the Irishman Roche suffering the most. With compatriot Dan Martin also crashing out of the Giro, the Irish have had very little luck since the race started in Belfast on May 8.
"Nicolas crashed and has wounds and cuts on his lower left side," said sports director Lars Michaelsen. "He'll need a couple of days but the doctor says that it's superficial. But he'll need a couple of days to get rid of the pain before he’s back at full strength again."
While Roche will be feeling sore after his crash, it was the damage done to his bike when he fell that has ended his GC aspirations. He was forced to wait 15 minutes before a new bike arrived.
As Michaelsen explains, due to this misfortune, Roche will readjust his role for the remainder of the race. "He will be a very important part in supporting Majka and going for a stage win," Michaelsen said.
Majka was wearing the maglia bianca on the stage as the leader of that classification, Matthews, also leads the race overall. At last year's Giro, Majka finished seventh overall and is hoping to better that result which was helped by his quick response to the crash that has saw him climb up the GC.
"Rafal crashed in the roundabout but managed to reach the front chasing group before the climb started - and despite returning to the group after a high effort he followed the rest of the favorites in the attempt to drag back Michael Matthews and Cadel Evans (BMC) on the 8.5km climb," Michaelsen said.
"This means that Majka moves up a place in the GC to 4th position. He went down on his left side and has pain in his hip and knee, but he'll be able to continue and recover on tomorrow’s flat stage."
Both Ivan Rovny and Pawel Poljanski have skin abrasions after the crash but the will be able to continue the race.