2012 Giro; Stage 3… the skinless stage
Today’s rather uneventful stage sure got more eventful in the last few hundred meters with an unfortunate crash in the final sprint.
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Roberto Ferrari of the Androni Giacottoli team swerved erratically- though he claims to have been just “trying to make my sprint”- and took out Mark Cavendish as he was beginning to start his sprint early because he was too far back… causing a mass pile-up within sight of the finish line. Sadly, the pileup also took out Taylor Phinney. After what seemed like an eternity and short ride in the ambulance, Phinney regained enough composure to take the stage for the jersey ceremony. So far, it looks like he will be able to continue on Wednesday in the team time trial, with tomorrow being the first rest day. That said, tomorrow is gonna really suck for the boy in pink.
Wednesday’s TTT is going to be especially painful for Phinney and the the other riders caught up in the crash. Their recovery is going to be critical; lots of physiotherapy over the next 24hrs and trying to work out the stiffness before the intense effort of Wednesday. Phinney will have to go extremely deep into the Pain Palace to preserve his maglia rosa, and Cavendish will have to go even deeper into the make-me-cry-like-a-baby-bunker if he wants to strip the tattered jersey off of Taylor. Cavendish’s teammate Geraint Thomas is a much closer threat for Phinney now, and even Alex Rasmussen of Garmin… so the battle on Wednesday to keep or steal the maglia rosa will be a good one.
Roberto Ferrari is being vilified by the public and other riders, but let’s not lose sight of this one fact; it’s a sprint in the Giro d’Italia and this move- though regrettable- is all too common. He deserved to be relegated, for sure, but Cavendish has done the same thing- and worse. Many sprinters have done the same- and worse. The fevered pitch of a sprint is something that simultaneously slows time down to a crawl, and speeds it up to a blur. That fraction of a second when that move to the right or left seems completely safe, is the exact same fraction of a second when it is the worst move in the world. Sprinters have to make decisions to follow a wheel, jump for daylight, avoid a crash, change a gear, etc, etc all in the blink of an eye- especially when sprinting at the speeds of the modern peloton. Ferrari’s move was wrong- especially in hindsight- but to vilify him means we need to vilify all sprinters who make decisions we don’t agree with. This won’t be the last crash of the Giro either. Luckily it sounds like Phinney will be able to continue, as well as Cavendish. Ferrari will have caught a ton of shit on the flight from Denmark to Italy in the transfer tonight… glad I’m not him.
The race will go on.
On a more meaningful note, the race had a moment of silence to honor Walter Weylandt who died on stage three in last year’s Giro. Walter left this world far too soon and was universally recognized for being a great young man. His friends and family still miss him- including the peloton. RIP #108.