Just 24 hours after Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) took the maglia rosa, a question mark hangs over the Spaniard's continuing participation in the Giro d'Italia, after the race leader was caught up in a mass crash in the final metres of stage 6.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider was injured in a big pile-up in the last 150 metres of the stage. Riders started falling on the other side of the bunch to where Contador was positioned, but he was caught out when the crash's 'shockwaves' rippled through the peloton. After going down, Contador quickly completed the stage a few minutes after the winner André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), but was clearly in pain.
The Spaniard made it onto the winner's podium, but Contador was in so much pain he could not put on the race leader's jersey nor open the celebratory bottle of prosecco. After using his right arm to throw his bouquet of flowers singlehandedly to the crowd, Contador then got into his team car and was driven away without making any comments or doing the usual leader’s post-stage press conference.
"He hurt his left knee, and his left shoulder took a big wrench when he went down," Contador’s press officer Jacinto Vidarte told Cyclingnews at the finish. "We hope he will be ok." There are unconfirmed media reports in Italy that Contador suffered a subluxation of his shoulder in the crash - in laypersons' terms, a temporary dislocation of a joint followed by an immediate return to its normal position.
Although exact details of how Contador went down are sketchy for now - the crash is believed to have been caused by a spectator leaning out to take a photo - Vidarte said, "He was caught up in the crash, it seems somebody went into him from behind and he couldn’t avoid it."
The Giro d'Italia has seen some serious crashes affecting GC contenders, with Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale), fifth in last year's Giro, badly injured on a descent coming off a second category climb on stage three. A mass pile-up on stage two near Genova had already seen the Italian losing time and a long list of other riders injured.
The rider who seemingly came off the worst in stage six bunch sprint crash was Daniele Colli (Nippo- Vini Fantini), rushed to hospital in an ambulance with a broken arm.
Contador's own recent past saw him out of the Tour de France with a fractured tibia last year and whilst it is not clear what affect this latest crash will have on his Giro d’Italia bid, memories of his fall last July are still very recent.
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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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