López's fall saw the Colombian go skidding off the road on a right-hand bend in the last 10 kilometres, too late, despite Astana's best efforts and a furious chase to bring their protected rider back into the peloton.
The consequence was Lopez crossed the line at Santa Ninfa 43 seconds down on the other GC favourites. Coupled with his pre-time trial crash and time loss in the Jerusalem stage, he's now 39th overall, nearly two minutes down on race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing).
López therefore goes into the Mount Etna stage the worst placed of all the GC favourites, and with question marks still lingering over the consequences of his injuries. Following such a difficult beginning to the Giro d’Italia, morale, too, can hardly be at its best.
Astana management were not in the most upbeat of moods at the stage finish, with longstanding director Giuseppe Martinelli stating somewhat cryptically, “He needs to have faith in the team,” as a final observation before ending an interview. He also insisted that the Etna stage would deliver a more realistic verdict on the Colombian's chances for the GC than any developments, positive or negative, in the race so far.
"He crashed, but it wasn’t serious," Martinelli told Cyclingnews. "It's really all about [Thursday]. If the legs are good tomorrow, then he'll recover [the time lost]. If not, then we'll see what we can do afterwards."
Martinelli expressed sympathy for his rider’s predicament and poor morale after such a difficult start, saying, "If you have a problem every day, it's normal. Today he crashed, but he got through it OK, what matters is that he wasn't injured. Tomorrow, we'll see if the legs are OK.
"It's been a difficult start, two crashes, he's not injured but he's suffering, he's been very unlucky," Martinelli's team director Alexander Schefer told Cyclingnews. "He's young, he's feeling that responsibility [of leadership], the pressure of it all.
"Tomorrow will be a tough day for him I think, but we hope he can get through."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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