A chaotic finish to the third stage of the Giro d'Italia in the Danish city of Horsens saw both world champion Mark Cavendish and race leader Taylor Phinney involved in a high-speed pile up.
Team Sky's Cavendish was just launching his bid for back-to-back wins at the end of the 190km route when Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela rider Roberto Ferrari moved sharply from left to right.
Cavendish could do nothing to prevent his front wheel being taken from beneath him as he crashed to the tarmac and race commissaires later relegated Ferrari to last place on the stage for his manoeuvre.
Phinney (BMC Racing) was one of those brought down behind and he initially stayed on the ground with concerns over his right ankle, while a battered and bruised Cavendish was able to get back on his feet and complete the stage.
Phinney later crossed the line in the rescue squad and his team reported: "Nothing appears to be broken." Indeed the American was able to take part in the podium presentations as he retained the maglia rosa.
Somewhat overshadowed by that drama was the stage win of Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) who went one better than the previous day as he outsprinted Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda).
Phinney continues to lead the overall by nine seconds from Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, with Alex Rasmussen (Garmin-Barracuda) a further four seconds back in third.
The race now transfers from Denmark to Italy, with Tuesday's rest day giving the riders brought down in the crash an extra 24 hours to recover and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman said of Cavendish: "Mark’s had a bad crash and is very uncomfortable but we’re taking care of him. We’re travelling as a team to Verona."
Meanwhile Sports Director Steven de Jongh reflected on what had been a hugely frustrating end to a stage which had looked to be going to plan.
He told us: "The team did another good job today. Flecha was really strong and helped control the breakaway just like Ian [Stannard] did yesterday.
"In the final the guys got separated a little bit but Cav was still well positioned to contest the sprint until Roberto Ferrari veered across and took away his front wheel in those last 100 metres. He lost a lot of skin but was able to pick himself up and complete the stage.
"The rest of the guys came through okay and hopefully we’ll have a hassle-free transfer to Verona now and be able to get some good work in tomorrow in preparation for Wednesday’s team time trial."
Calm before the storm
The start of the stage had been about remembering rider Wouter Weylandt who had tragically lost his life at this point in last year's edition, exactly 12 months on from winning the same stage.
It was also dedicated to the memory of Jan Trojborg, the mayor of Horsens, who died suddenly just before the Giro visited his city.
The general director of RCS Sport Michele Acquarone read a message of condolence in the presence of Weylandt's family and the assistant mayor of Horsens remembered Trojborg.
A minute's silence was observed before the RadioShack-Nissan team and Weylandt's close friend Farrar symbolically led the peloton out on a course which looped around east Jutland.
It took 35km for a break to get away, with Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Barracuda), Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil-DCM), Reto Hollenstein (NetApp), Alfredo Balloni (Farnese Vini), Miguel Mínguez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Mads Christensen (Saxo Bank) the six riders in question.
But on what had the potential to be a tricky stage given the prospect of crosswinds and narrow roads, their advantage was pegged at 3:35 and started to come down in the final 50km.
Heading into the three 14.5km laps around the city which rounded off the stage the breakaway's lead was dwindling rapidly and the catch came with 30km remaining, though Danes Christensen and Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol) both gave the home fans something to cheer as they chipped off the front.
However it was all back together for the final circuit as the sprinters' teams lined up at the front and it seemed to be panning out perfectly again for Cavendish who was again kept at the head of affairs throughout by his team-mates.
In the long finishing straight he had looked round with 300 metres remaining, eased to the outside and started to wind up his effort, only for his chances to be dashed a split second later.
The stage marked the last of three days in Denmark, with the race now transferring to Italy on Tuesday's rest day ahead of the 32.2km team time in Verona.