The mountainous parcour of the across the Apennine ridge proved too much of a hurdle for Lotto Belisol stage victory hope, Gianni Meersman. The Belgian was forced to abandon Stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia after 70 kilometres of racing on Saturday.
Meersman had crashed on stage 2 in Herning and had been able to cautiously ride through the following days over the competitively flat roads. But as the Giro began to head skywards, the 26-year-old was forced off his bike.
"Pain in my back and my knee forced me to abandon," Meersman said in a team statement. "Obviously this is a big disappointment for me. Right after the crash I thought the damage was minimal and during the flat races, I was alright. But when it first got hilly yesterday, it was a real struggle to keep following the bunch. I went to the limit and my osteopath did everything yesterday to make the pain go away, but 12 hours of recovery were insufficient. Due to the injury on my hip joint, I sat crooked on my bike, causing more pain in my knee," he explained, referencing the injury which ruled him out of Fleche Wallonne or Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
"It was no use to continue, things could only get worse, followed by a longer period of inactivity," Meersman continued. "I now hope it will be limited to only a couple of days, time you don't get in a big tour. I'd rather saw this end another way, because giving up is the last thing you want to do as a rider. Now it's important to get rid of the disappointment and make new goals."