More bad luck for Team Sky

Weylandt claims sprint victory

By Nick Howes   Last updated: 20th May 2010

The Dutch road obstacles and gusting crosswinds both played their part as Team Sky suffered another hugely unfortunate day at the Giro d'Italia.

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The squad had been riding solidly at the front of the peloton for most of the stage but things took a turn for the worse when four of the team, including Bradley Wiggins, were involved in a crash just 10 kilometres from the finish line.

By the time that quartet had made it back onto their bikes the lead group were over three minutes in front and Quick-Step's Wouter Weylandt eventually sprinted to victory ahead of Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Robert Förster (Milram).

Pink jersey holder Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) was also caught up in that same decisive crash, and although he reduced the gap between himself and Weylandt to 43 seconds at the end, it was not enough to retain his overall lead.

Alexandre Vinokourov took over from Evans at the top of the general classification, with Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) on the same time as the Astana rider in second place, and David Millar (Garmin) third.

Calm before the storm

Clear and calm conditions in Amsterdam at the start of the day had belied what was to come as Jérôme Pineau (Quick-Step), Olivier Kaisen (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Tom Stamsnijder (Rabobank) formed an early breakaway.

That trio temporarily built a lead of six minutes on the bunch but had been hauled back by the time the riders reached the coastline at Ouddorp.

From then on the winds picked up considerably and splintered the peloton into several groups, with those caught towards the back of the field being forced to battle frantically just to stay in touch.

Garmin's Christian Vande Velde was one high-profile casualty to emerge from that blustery section and was forced to quit the race entirely after picking up a serious collarbone injury in one of several crashes along the seafront.

Team Sky had appeared to be out of danger at the very head of the field, but any hopes of a stage win came to an abrupt halt when Wiggins, Dario Cioni, Mathew Hayman and Chris Sutton were all sent tumbling on a tight left-hand corner.

While Michael Barry and Steve Cummings were called back to assist their team-mates, Evans battled his way back into the second group, but the world champion's efforts to retain the maglia rosa ultimately proved fruitless with Vinokourov benefiting greatly from his own trouble-free ride.

Greg Henderson led Team Sky home in the same group as Evans, with Wiggins, Barry, Sutton, Cioni, Hayman and Cummings all crossing the line together, three minutes and 59 seconds off the pace.

Ellingworth hails early efforts

After the stage, race coach Rod Ellingworth was philosophical about the way events had transpired, and was pleased to report no-one from Team Sky had suffered any serious injuries as a result of that late accident.

He told us: "Up until the closing stages everyone in the team had ridden really well. We had seven riders in that front group and I think the crash came down to a tricky corner tightening up on them.

"From what I understand, Mat Hayman was the first man down and that caused a domino effect behind. No-one could do anything about it and the whole incident was really unfortunate.

"Bradley was probably the worst affected - he's given himself a right old whack - and CJ [Sutton] might have to have stitches in his leg, but they are all OK considering and thankfully there's nothing more serious to report."

As soon as the riders made it back onto the team bus they were whisked away to the airport to catch a flight down to Italy - where the tour will resume on Wednesday.

Ellingworth admits the team may now have to reassess their plans for the next few days but insists the riders will be central to any decisions.

He added: "Once we get off the plane we'll get checked into our hotel and see how the lads are feeling. On Tuesday we have a training session planned but we will assess the situation in the morning and take things from there.

"As for the team time trial on Wednesday, it's a similar story. We will keep things flexible and see what happens."