By David Williams
Geraint Thomas admitted he was lucky to escape unharmed after a crash disrupted stage two of the Giro d’Italia and ruled out Mark Cavendish.
The Welsh star revealed he was forced to brake hard to avoid hitting fallen riders, but managed to battle back to the front of the peloton following a split caused by the crash.
The peloton had just headed under the four kilometre to go banner when a crash near the front of the bunch saw the road momentarily blocked.
Thomas’s Ineos Grenadiers teammate Filippo Ganna was able to use his power to help drag Thomas back to a group of just 40 riders at the finish.
As a result, Wales former Tour de France champion climbed to sixth overall, remaining 55 seconds back on race leader Remco Evenepoel.
“We were a bit out of position and I saw Cav and a few guys go down,” said Thomas.
“Luckily, I got through it but I was fully on the anchors at one point.
“I managed to get through and Ganna was with me which was perfect. Oh man, he rode so hard, I was [struggling] just to hold the wheel, but luckily we got back and it was okay.
“It was quite a steady away day until the last 3km which was just ballistic. It was a bit of a shock to the system but all good.”
Thomas’s team co-leader Tao Geoghegan Hart was not so lucky and, along with much of the peloton, was forced to chase back on the run-in.
The Londoner dropped 19 seconds and now sits eighth overall, 59 seconds off the maglia rosa in this early phase of the race.
Giro d'Italia Stage 2
9. Jake Stewart
34. Geraint Thomas (@ 55 secs on GC)
64. Ben Swift
76. Hugh Carthy
77. Tao Geoghegan Hart (@ 59 secs on GC)
107. Mark Cavendish
134. Charlie Quarterman
160. Stevie Williams
165. Thomas Gloag
46 Ben Healy @ 2.04
53 Hugh Carthy @ 2.15 pic.twitter.com/BPaYPG5C8S
— British Cycle Sport (@VeloUK) May 7, 2023
Up until that point the opening full road stage of the Giro had been a relatively relaxed one, with the team able to conserve energy where possible prior to the expected bunch sprint.
Jonathan Milan (Bahrain Victorious) took the sprint win and claim his first Grand Tour stage in the process, holding off David Dekker (Arkea Samsic) and Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) at the line.
Although Cavendish was out of the running, there was one Brit in the top 10 as Jake Stewart sprinted to ninth for Groupama-FDJ.
The race continues with a 213km stage from Vasto to Melfi on Monday.