Alessandro Bertolini won Wednesday’s 11th stage of the Tour of Italy with fellow Italian Giovanni Visconti holding on to the race leader’s pink jersey.
Visconti survived a scare 30km from the finish when he hit the ground along with several of his rivals and ended the day undergoing x-rays on an injured left elbow and right hand.
“I felt sick and vomited during the stage,” he said.
Visconti paid tribute to his teammates, world champion Paolo Bettini and Andrea Tonti.
“They literally kept me going right to the finish,” he said.
Bertolini had five seconds to spare over Spain’s Pablo Lastras, who had been hampered by that crash, at the finish.
Fortunato Baliani, came in third, 16 seconds adrift.
The 199km stage produced a series of falls with conditions made hazardous by the weather.
SLIPPING THE PELOTON
After an animated start in Urbania five riders including Lastras slipped the peloton at the 42km mark only to be joined 50km from the finish by Baliani.
On the roads where former troubled Italian cycling great Marco Pantani, who died in 2004, used to train, the Italian duo of Danilo Di Luca and Riccardo Ricco tried to test their fellow riders.
At the line there was a gap of four minutes back to the pack housing some of the race favorites including Daniele Bennati of Italy.
For Bertolini, a professional since 1993, it was his first stage victory in the Giro.
“I’ve achieved my dream. I managed to win despite a fall and a knock I took to the elbow,” Bertolini said.
“I’ve never succeeded in winning a stage on the Giro and I have to thank [Gilberto] Simoni who gave me space and told me to go for the win,” he said.
Yesterday’s 12th stage, over a level 172km from Forli to Carpi, was due to favor specialist sprinters but one rider who was missing at the start was Colombia’s Mauricio Soler.
The king of the mountains at last year’s Tour de France pulled out suffering from an injury from a crash on an earlier stage.
Another rider, Italian Andrea Moletta, was forced by his Gerolsteiner team to retire before Wednesday’s stage after his father was implicated in a drugs probe by the Italian police.
Later on Wednesday, it was revealed Italian climber Leonardo Piepoli of the Saunier Duval team had been suffering from severe pains in his ribs after falling during the stage.
Piepoli, the main lieutenant of Riccardo Ricco, fell about 27km from the finish line at Cesena but the pain caused him concern and a fracture has not been ruled out.
“I feel very bad,” said Piepoli. “Fortunately the next two stages are easy and I hope the pain will have got easier before Saturday’s mountain stage.”
The 36-year-old Piepoli, who won a stage in both the Giro and the Tour of Spain last year, is in 20th spot overall at 10min, 16sec from the leader.