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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Monday, May 15, 2017

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2017 Tour de France | 2017 Giro d'Italia

In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Current Racing:

Latest completed racing:

Giro d'Italia stage 9 team reports

Team Sky suffered terrible misfortune with a crash on the final climb. Here's their report:

A crash on stage nine dealt a blow to Team Sky’s Giro d’Italia challenge with Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa both caught up in a mass pile-up.

Team Sky were victims of an unfortunate collision on the fast run to the foot of the Blockhaus climb. With 14 kilometres to go and the peloton spread wide across the road, riders clipped a stationary police motorcycle, causing a large crash which took out most of the team.

With Thomas, Landa, Diego Rosa, Sebastian Henao, Vasil Kiryienka and Kenny Elissonde all going down, the riders were forced to regroup amid the carnage and disbelief, while the race continued ahead unabated.

Landa was quickly up but struggled as the climb ramped up. Thomas, who had to wait for a new bike, battled onwards and received help from Rosa, Henao and Philip Deignan on the first-category summit.

With attacks firing among the overall contenders up the mountain, time loss was inevitable, and a brave Thomas eventually crossed the line five minutes and seven seconds back on stage winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Landa eventually finished the stage over 26 minutes down.

All nine Team Sky riders were able to finish the stage and continue their transfer into the rest day. Despite no immediate obvious major injuries, all riders will be checked over by Team Sky’s medical staff and the team will be able to provide further updates in the coming days.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas just after the stage nine finish

Far from being down in the dumps, back on the bus Thomas told he is committed to battling on at the Giro. He said: "It's just about keeping fighting. We kept fighting today and never gave up. It could have been a lot worse. We lost five minutes but I felt like I lost three or four of those on the side of the road - so the legs are obviously decent.

"I'll aim to have a good rest day tomorrow, give the TT a good bash and then see where we stand. It's obviously going to be super hard to win the overall now, but there are still stages to go for and we might still be able to move up into the top 10 or better. At the moment I just want to use the aggression, race hard and see what I can get out of it.

"I've had worse crashes. My shoulder is sore but it's nothing I can't deal with. There's a lot more racing to be had so we'll get stuck in."

Team Principal Sir Dave Brailsford was philosophical after the stage, explaining: “These things happen in sport. You’ve just got to stay calm and not overreact. Obviously there’s emotion but my role here is to keep the guys calm, assess the situation and look at how we go on from here.

“It would have been nice to see how the guys got on today. We were pretty confident in both Mikel and G with their condition but we’ll never know. But what we will know is what we do tonight, tomorrow, the next day and for the rest of the race.

“You know the goalposts are going to move at times and you just have to react and respond properly to it. The motorbike shouldn’t have been there – I think we all see that. But I’m sure the guy riding the motorbike realises that too, and I’m sure he isn’t feeling too great about it. So we leave it at that, but I do think we need to go back and have a look at it, and ask the questions, why it happened etc. We fight on, that’s it. You’ve got to re-calibrate and keep going. That’s the nature of this sport. You get knocked down, you’ve got to get up again and keep going. That’s what we’ll do."

With the early breakaway established Movistar took up the pace setting, setting their stall out early in a bid to set up Quintana.

The Colombian was the first of the big names to attack on the climb, initially taking Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) and Thibault Pinot (FDJ) with him, before accelerating again to go clear with 4.5km to go. Pinot and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) were next home, 24 seconds back on the new race leader.

Wilco Kelderman had to abandon after a crash. Here's the Team Sunweb release:

Wilco Kelderman (NED) is forced to abandon the Giro d'Italia on its ninth stage, after a crash left him with a broken finger. The injury sustained is to the same finger as was broken earlier in the season following a crash at Strade Bianche.

Team physician Mannes Naeff (NED) gives more depth to Kelderman's injury: "Wilco has a complicated fracture on the index finger of his left hand, the same finger he fractured in his crash at Strade Bianche. Just as the last time he will need surgery once again. He will be operated on in the Netherlands, within a few days. After surgery he will need at least four to six weeks to recover."

Kelderman expressed his dismay after his abandon: "It is really frustrating to crash out like this. We were taking our position in front-left side and we needed to avoid the motor that was on the road. Tom just managed to go around the motobike but I clipped it with my handlebar. This is a big disappointment for me, I felt really strong and it's devastating to not have been able to help Tom some more with his great result today. So far the Giro has been really good for the team, there's a great atmosphere and spirit which is great to be a part of. I've worked really hard over the past few months to raise my level and it's really sad that I cannot continue to show this."

Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED) continued: "Today is truly a day with mixed emotions. The team did a great job and both Wilco and Tom felt really good. The guys were taking their position at the front when Wilco crashed and immediately it was clear that his Giro was over. Its disappointing to loose him, he's an important rider both on and off the bike. We are here on a mission and we will deal with this in the most positive way that we can. We are obviously disappointed but we have a strong team that are all determined. Tom did a great ride today and showed his strength, our motivation continues and our team spirit remains strong."  

Team Quick-Step Floors' Bob Jungels lost the maglia rosa today. Here's what the team had to say:

Blockhaus, which made its return to the race after an eight-year hiatus, led to some huge margins in the general classification.

The second summit finish of the Giro d'Italia was supposed to take the riders up the Blockhaus, a fierce climb visited only five climbs in the past, but never before from this side. The ascent, averaging 8.4% over 13.6 kilometers, came after 176 fast and furious kilometers, which saw 12 riders open a maximum gap of four minutes over the bunch, among those to snap the elastic being also Iljo Keisse, who featured in the breakaway for the second consecutive day.

The chase was led by Movistar, who brought down the gap and reeled in the escapees with around 20 kilometers to go, not long before disaster struck in the peloton, as a stationary moto caused a huge crash which took several riders to the ground, including Pieter Serry, who fortunately was left unscathed and could continue stage 9.

The same Spanish team put down the hammer on the early slopes of Blockhaus, forcing an important selection and putting many riders on their limit. Bob Jungels was among the ones to lose contact on the double-digit gradients of the Abruzzo ascent and decided to pace himself to the finish, where he arrived 3:30 down on Nairo Quintana, who took the victory and the pink jersey.

Now, ahead of the race's second rest day, the Luxembourger is 12th in the general classification, while teammate Fernando Gaviria, winner of two stages in the first part of the Corsa Rosa, continues to stay at the top of the points rankings.

Bob Jungels

Bob Jungels finishes stage nine

Quick-Step Floors sport director Davide Bramati gave his take on this stage at the top of Blockhaus: "This was the hardest climb of the Giro d'Italia and we knew it was going to be difficult for Bob to defend the maglia rosa. The climbers' teams hit bottom of the ascent at a really high speed and because of that high pace many riders suffered. Very likely, yesterday's crash took its toll on Bob. Just to be clear, we aren't going for any excuses, but crashing and hitting your knee is not ideal ahead of such a hard stage."

The race will resume on Tuesday with a 39.8km-long individual time trial between Foligno and Montefalco, and Bramati believes that stage could have a big impact on the overall standings: "Bob did his best today and remains motivated for the weeks to come. As we said before the start of the Giro, we will make a first assessment after the time trial. It's going to be another hard stage, but we are confident."

Orica-Scott posted this Giro report:

British climber Adam Yates has vowed to fight on after an unfortunate crash involving a motorbike put a dent in his and Orica-Scotts’s overall aspirations at the Giro d’Italia today.

With around 15km to go, on the tough final climb of stage nine, a stationary police motorbike on the side of the road clipped a Team Sunweb rider causing a crash that took down Yates and a number of other general classification contenders, including Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).

Yates quickly mounted back on his bike, despite a broken frame and a rubbing wheel from the crash. The 24-year-old had the support of teammates Ruben Plaza and Carlos Verona in the chase, but the damage was done courtesy of a furious pace up front.

Ahead, a strong Nairo Quintana (Movistar) took the stage solo whilst Yates fought on hard to finish 4’39” behind on the famous Blockhaus climb.

Despite the disappointment, Yates has vowed to fight on. "I'm bitterly dissappointed with today's unfortunate situation, but the Giro isn't over for us yet," Yates said.

"I came here in great condition after months of hard work and that form hasn't gone anywhere. We have two more hard weeks ahead of us and I'm more motivated than ever to get a result and climb back up the general classification."

Sport director Matthew White echoed Yates' fighting words, albeit disappointed by today's proceedings. “We are extremely disappointed that something that shouldn’t have happened has had such an impact today,” White said. “We don’t know the circumstances, whether the motorbike stalled or just made an error in judgement in stopping there but you never want to see that happen.

"Unfortunately we feel that Movistar also made a mistake today. Given the scenario of the race, still a long way from the finish and no break to chase, it was possible for them to wait just for a couple of minutes given there were so many GC contenders on the deck. The strongest guy won today but the damage behind was significant.

“Look, it was a bad day for us but we won’t give up. It’s put a dent in our podium aspirations but there is still a lot of climbing to come and we will keep fighting. All is not lost.”

How it happened:

Earlier in the day, 10 riders were shortly joined by three chasers to form the breakaway of stage nine, hopeful that the general classification teams would allow them some freedom before battling between themselves behind.

As it was, they were not in luck, and their advantage didn’t reach much more than three-minutes and Movistar, in particular, were keen to keep them within striking range.

Orica-Scott sent Canadian Svein Tuft to the front to contribute to the chase and as they headed towards Blockhaus and into the final 30km, the breakaway's advantage was down to under a minute.

The race was back together with 18km to go before just a handful of kilometres down the road, disaster struck for Orica-Scott with Yates and others hitting the deck from the crash.

Fighting on gallantly, Yates lost almost four-minutes 40seconds to Quintana who attacked on the climb for a solo victory.

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