Giro d'Italia shorts: Merckx calls Wiggins a novice, Abdujapaorov and broken bones

Betancur's bounces back but can't count for Belkov

A lack of a working radio and a gutsy last minute acceleration ahead of Carlinson Pantano (Colombia) combined to see Carlos Alberto Betancur (Ag2R) celebrate for a win that was not, finally, his - given that Russia’s Maxim Belkov (Katusha) had already crossed the finishing line at Firenze some 40 seconds before on stage 9.

Nonetheless, Betancur said he was “happy because a second place for me in a Giro stage is very important, too, for me.”

“I broke away [from the bunch] looking for a stage win, but with no working radio, I thought everybody had been caught. Even so, this is a good result.”

As for his take on the Giro in general, Betancur said he had seen “[Ryder] Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp) having a crisis and [Bradley] Wiggins (Sky) in difficulty, and I’m convinced there’s a chance I’ll do something. I know that I’m six minutes down overall, but I can bounce back, there are a lot of climbs to come.”

Vicioso out with broken bones

While Katusha celebrated their second stage win of the race courtesy of Maxim Belkov, news filtered through of Vicioso's crash. Falling in the latter part of stage 9 the veteran was left with "three broken ribs, a wrist break and shoulder trauma on the left part and the cracking scapula and some other damages on the right side," the team confirmed.

Despite the heavy fall the Katusha rider was able to finish the stage before being carted off to hospital.

Merckx: Wiggins descends like a novice

Five times winner of the Giro d'Italia, Eddy Merckx, has told Het Nieuwsblad that "It is incomprehensible how Wiggins descends," after the Sky leader suffered a crash on stage 7 and was then dropped on a descent on stage 9 to Florence. Wiggins currently sits 1'16 down on maglia rosa Vincenzo Nibali but has looked increasingly vulnerable on the wet roads.

"I never saw it before and have never experienced that myself. I do not know why he suddenly descends so bad. He's ridden the past few days like a novice on the downhills. I think there is something wrong with his material, he has no confidence."

"He seems okay in terms of his physical condition and it is still too early to draw conclusions. Wiggins is right when he says that there are two more hellish weeks."

Sprinting is for real men

Djamolidin Abdujapaorov, the Taskent Terror, one of the craziest, most fearless sprinters of all time is at this year's Giro d'Italia, driving one of the RCS Sport technical directors in the race.

'Abdu' was famous for his reckless sprinting, his often verbal and even physical clashes with Mario Cipollini and his spectacular high-speed crash on the Champs Elysees at the end of the 1991 Tour de France. His career ended in 1997 when he tested positive for Clenbuterol during the Tour de France.

Now 49 and living in Italy, he shared his thoughts on sprinting with Gazzetta dello Sport.

"This is the first time I'm back at the Giro since I retired. I like it," he said.

"Would I like to be having a go in the sprints? Well, I wouldn't be afraid to have a go."

"Sprinting is always about how ferocious you are, they're wild moments. Sprinting is for real men. These days riders line up to see the doctor during races to get treatment for a few cuts. I don’t think I ever went to the doctors car during a race. I looked after myself."

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