Sat, May 17, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Matthews wins stage marred by crash

END OF THE ROAD:Katusha were the team most affected by a huge pileup in the peloton as they lost leader Joaquim Rodriguez, Angel Vicioso and Giampaolo Caruso to injuries


Australia’s Michael Matthews, second left, sprints to win the sixth stage of the 97th Giro d’Italia from Sassano to Montecassino, Italy, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Overall leader Michael Matthews claimed his first individual victory on the sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday, but the race was marred by a crash which forced overall contender Joaquim Rodriguez and two Katusha teammates to withdraw.

The incident occurred on the wet road approaching the final climb and involved many cyclists, but the Katusha riders were the most seriously affected.

Rodriguez made it to the finish, 7 minutes, 43 seconds behind Matthews, while Movistar’s Nairo Quintana fell 2:08 behind the overall leader.

Rodriguez was diagnosed with a broken rib and left thumb, teammate Angel Vicioso had his right femur broken in three places and was being transported to Rome for surgery, while Giampaolo Caruso had large bruises.

“It hurts to leave the Giro, but there is no other option,” said Rodriguez, who already had two broken ribs from the Amstel Gold race. “The road was very slippery and we were going 60kph. Just touching your brakes was enough to crash... After the crash I got back on my bike immediately, more full of aggression and determination, but after a while I clearly felt what the problem was, as I could not breathe anymore.”

Rigoberto Uran, the Colombian Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider who was third overall, explained that the crash happened right in front of the peloton.

“All of the GC [general classification] guys went down or were held up, except [Cadel] Evans,” Uran said. “Fortunately, I only have a few scratches and a contusion on my left side, the elbow and hip specifically. Fortunately, it is nothing serious.”

Matthews won from a four-man breakaway, coming up the inside of Evans’ wheel to take victory on the Giro’s longest stage, a 257km route which ended in a climb up to Montecassino.

“I still can’t believe what happened,” Matthews said. “The team put me in a perfect position for the climb. We controlled the break and then it was up to me to defend the jersey. I didn’t think I’d be able to win the stage, too.”

“I’ve got to thank the team, they were incredible,” he said. “I was lucky to have Luke Durbridge in front of me, he did an awesome job. I wouldn’t be here without him on the climb.”

Tim Wellens was second and Evans third. Matteo Rabottini was the last of the escapees to cross the line, 49 seconds ahead of the chasing peloton.

Matthews was to wear the maglia rosa for a fifth day yesterday, with the Australian extending his lead to 21 seconds.

BMC Racing’s Evans moved into second place, gaining a lot of time on his rivals for the overall prize. Uran was third.

The sixth stage was to be the second longest, but it had to be extended by 10km to take a detour around a landslide.

With the route so lengthy, the peloton was content to let a breakaway group of 11 extend their lead to 14 minutes, before reeling it in with 12km remaining, just before the crash.

The crash split the peloton. A group of eight riders got away and moved quickly up the start of the 8.5km climb to the finish.

Daniel Oss, Steve Morabito, Luke Durbridge and Ivan Santaromita were dropped from the leading group, before Evans led the sprint over the final kilometer.

Yesterday’s seventh stage of 21 was another lengthy leg, with two categorized climbs along the 211km route from Frosinone to Foligno, Italy.

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