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“He could’ve already won if he was on equal time with us, but now he has an advantage, and Rodríguez is gone,” Scarponi said.

Photo: Sirotti

ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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CADEL EVANS

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MICHELE SCARPONI

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17.05.2014 @ 06:14 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Feeling of disappointment and confusion were present following the mass-crash at the bottom of the Montecassino ascent on Thursday, as Astana leader Michele Scarponi time trialed his way up the climb to limit his losses, absolutely unaware that a small nine-rider group including Cadel Evans (BMC) survived the incident unscathed and crossed the line before the chasing group brought home by Wilco Kelderman (Belkin). Acknowledging new circumstances, the 34-year old Italian remained classy in expressing his distaste for a BMC move and called the 37-year old Australian a favorite to take the spoils in the Giro, but also pointed out that first mountain stages could turn the general classification all over.

 

“BMC evidently was not aware of the big crash, even if I have a hard time believing that, because they were in such a small group,” Scarponi told VeloNews. “Who knows, maybe they didn’t turn back, and they thought that we were all there, on their wheels.”

 

Sitting now 2:07 behind Evans in the general classification, the Astana leader was eventually pleased with a way he managed to limit his losses on Thursday’s stage.

 

“It was a confusing moment for everyone. I restarted after suffering a bad bang. I didn’t know where my teammates where, if they were behind or ahead,” Scarponi added. ”I limited my losses in the end. If I was able to re-start right away, then maybe I could’ve arrived in Quintana’s group. I had to force it to get where I was, getting through the cars from the crash to the top. It was a big energy output, I couldn’t recover anything because the pace was high. I’m upset, but I know that it could’ve been worse.”

 

Scarponi didn’t manage to remount his bike quickly enough to re-join the chasing group led by Movistar, Ag2R La Mondiale and Omega Pharma-Quick Step, but still should consider himself lucky ending up with 1:37 loss to Evans on stage and with skin abrasions, while for several riders the massive crash put the end on their GC ambitions, pulling them out of contention, out of the Giro and in one case, possibly out of professional racing too.

 

Janez Brajkovic was came off worst of the accident, abandoning the race with fractured right elbow. Katusha suffered a final blow with Joaquim Rodriguez pulling out of contention, along with Giampaolo Caruso and most unfortunate Angel Vicioso, whose threefold femur fracture raised some question about his future career in professional cycling.

 

“I don’t know who was the first to go down, but we would’ve gone down regardless of who it was,” Scarponi said. ”You can’t put responsibility on person or one team, or the road or the rain. Simply put, there was nervousness because we all wanted to be at the front before the last climb. We all wanted to stay up front and we crashed.

 

“Things like that happen. It was a big crash, clearly. Entire teams were on the ground, one was my team. Brajkovic came off the worst.”

 

Scarponi admitted, that the BMC leader was considered one of the strongest general classification contenders in this year’s Giro d’Italia edition, and additional 57 seconds over his nearest rival Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) put him in a role of an outright favorite. However, the Astana leader pointed out that the Italian grand tour could take a thousand different directions when the peloton would hit the mountains for the first time.

 

“He could’ve already won if he was on equal time with us, but now he has an advantage, and Rodríguez is gone,” Scarponi said. ”We are talking now, right after the crash and ahead of the mountains, so the Giro could take on a thousand different forms. However, Evans is a champion and he has a good lead already. It’s not going to be easy to recover all of that advantage.”

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