There were upwards of four crashes and a long list of injuries on a day that saw record-breaking speeds during stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia on Friday, with Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) forced out of the race with a broken wrist and Mitchelton-Scott's Edoardo Affini confirmed on Friday evening as having fractured a finger, meaning that the Italian will also leave the race, while it was announced on Saturday morning that EF Pro Cycling's Sean Bennett had also broken his wrist.
The peloton raced 143km between Matera and Brindisi, finishing with an average speed of 51kph, and a 55kph average for the first hour. A breakaway formed early on, but it was quickly brought back when high-speed crosswinds tore through the peloton, causing it to splinter into smaller groups.
Upon a change in direction, the groups reconnected, but there were several riders who crashed amongst the field. All riders finished the race, but those who crashed were later examined to reveal multiple injuries.
Gallopin crashed 45 kilometres from the finish in Brindisi. According to a team statement, he suffered a broken left wrist. The duration of his unavailability will be communicated later.
"The crash occurred passing through an arch, 45 kilometres from the finish," Gallopin said. "We were on a two-lane road, and we were going very fast. I flipped over the bike, I landed hard, and had the wind knocked out of me.
"It took a long time for me to start again and then I quickly realised that my left wrist was broken, just like in February during the Tour de Valence. I have felt good since the start of the race, but my Giro ended there. Of course, I'm disappointed to leave my teammates and the race in this way."
Two of Gallopin's teammates, Aurélien Paret-Peintre and Andrea Vendrame, also came down in the same crash, and both suffered from road rash on their left sides.
Three riders from Mitchelton-Scott – Affini, Damien Howson and Lucas Hamilton – also crashed, and on Friday evening the team confirmed that Affini would leave the race due to a fractured metacarpal in his finger, while Howson also injured his hand, but will be able to start stage 8 on Saturday, and Hamilton was uninjured.
"Unfortunately, Edoardo has fractured the third metacarpal in his right hand and will need surgery, so will not start tomorrow," wrote Mitchelton-Scott in a social media post.
"Damien has also injured his hand, but will start tomorrow and continue to be monitored, while Lucas was also involved in a crash, but has escaped serious injury."
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), who is positioned seventh overall, said he was also caught up in a crash, but has not sustained any serious injuries.
"I had a small crash, but nothing serious. All in all, I am satisfied with how the day went. On days like today you can lose a lot and not really gain much," Fuglsang said.
Two-time stage winner Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) was caught behind the crash with 45 kilometres remaining, but did not fall, and finished safely in the bunch and retains the maglia azzurra.
CCC Team's leader Ilnur Zakarin was also caught behind the same crash, but was able to make his way back to the main group, although teammate Pavel Kochetkov was not so lucky, and "went down hard on his side", according to the team.
"Kochetkov will undergo X-rays to analyse the extent of his injuries," a CCC Team statement read, and it remained to be seen whether the Russian would be able to start on Saturday.
Sunweb's Chad Haga said he came close to crashing, but managed to finish the stage unscathed. He said that the crash that happened with 45 kilometres to go, on a stretch of road that funneled the peloton under a banner, could have been avoided.
"Of all the unnecessary reasons to crash, the easiest to fix must be the gantries marking every 5km. A 60kph peloton, gutter-to-gutter, has to suddenly get 2m narrower to fit between a sign telling us the same thing as our head units and directors. TV viewers also have a graphic," Haga said.
"I was thankfully spared by millimetres today, but lots of guys are going to be hurting for a while after that one. Ironically, taking away these gantries is probably the only rider-safety measure that would entail less work for organisers."
On Saturday morning, EF Pro Cycling announced on Twitter that Sean Bennett would also be unable to start stage 8 due to a broken wrist.
"Unfortunately, Sean was forced to abandon the Giro d'Italia after breaking his left scaphoid in a crash on stage 7. Join us in wishing him a speedy recovery," the team wrote.
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