Stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia ended in what the Italians call a 'maxi-caduta'. Rider after rider came down on the wet and slick pavement over the finish line. The first of the riders to hit the deck was Russian Nikolai Trusov (Tinkoff Credit Systems), who achieved his best result so far in the Giro but did so on while sliding on his backside over the line.
"The rain started just before Pinerolo," explained the 21 year-old to Tinkoff's Press Officer Sergey Kurdyukov. "It would have been better if it showered cats and dogs; the drizzle is the worst ... as the road turns into a skating rink.
"The speed was as high as ever, though, and the attackers were brought back, including [teammate] Ignatiev three kilometres to go. Elio Aggiano gave me a good lead-out, but I found myself at the front a trifle early. I then started to search for a hole but all the doors were closed. I just freewheeled across the line when the front wheel slipped on the wide finish line, and before I knew it I was sliding on my bottom."
The crash also involved World Champion Paolo Bettini. The Italian was the second rider to lose control of his bike.
"Paolo Bettini bumped into me, and then it seemed like every second rider fell. Each of them crashed all by himself, thank god. They just tried to brake but there was plenty of fresh paint on the tarmac. As far as I saw, no one got into serious trouble.
"I'm pretty philosophical about my grazes; it's a part of the job. Our leader Evgeni Petrov also fell, he says it won't influence his performance either. Mechanics had to change almost half of the components on my bike, but the frame and fork are OK."
The young Russian, in his fourth year as a professional, is worried about the coming mountain stages.
Stage 12, from Scalenghe to Briançon, will be "the hardest mountain stage I've ever ridden. Normally on a training ride I never get higher than 1500 metres, in some races in Spain we rode passes above 2000 metres, but you can't compare a 2.2 stage race to the Giro, they are worlds apart in terms of speed and competition. On the other hand I'm comfortable with the altitude, judging from my track experience in Mexico.
"Frankly speaking, I was afraid of the Giro before the start as I thought it would be 20 Tours of Flanders (my horrifying ProTour debut race). It turned out the Giro is slightly less wild. The more I come to terms with the Giro, the stronger I feel. Perhaps getting to Milan is not just a daydream of mine."
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