Enrico Gasparotto (Astana) was struck by a truck while training yesterday ahead of his Amstel Gold title defence. Despite the high-speed crash, the Italian is travelling to Maastricht today in hopes of a second consecutive win on Sunday.
“I have a little bit of pain right now,” Gasparotto said in a press release. “But I can go to the osteopath and everything should be good by Sunday.”
Gasparotto was motor-pacing behind sports director, Stefano Zanini yesterday near Lake Como when the incident occurred. A delivery truck exited from a side street to turn left across the road. Zanini braked in time and avoided it, but the Amstel champion hit it and crashed on the road.
“It was impossible to brake. We were going 45 maybe 50K on a little bit of a descent, and it was impossible not to crash,” continued Gasparotto. I was very, very lucky that there was no real damage. My body is a little bit hurt, and my bike was not so good.”
The two stayed and argued with the driver for 20 minutes before Gasparotto continued training.
“For me this is the most important week of the year, and I want to have good races in the Ardennes, so I continued my training session and that was all I could do,” added Gasparotto.
“I yelled at the driver that this is my job. I don’t go out on the bike just for fun, and he has no idea the sacrifices we make to be professionals. But Zaza [Zanini] is a big man and he was really angry, and I really thought he was going to hit him.”
Thomas Löfkvist (IAM Cycling) was not so lucky. A car also hit him while he was training yesterday, fracturing his left index finger. According a team press release, he will miss the Ardennes Classics and Tour of Romandy as a result.
The Amstel Gold Race signified Gasparotto’s biggest career win last year. The rider from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy’s northeast had won the Giro d’Italia’s pink jersey and placed third in Amstel before, but the win in the hills above Maastricht topped his palmarès.
Following a last-minute move by Oscar Freire, Philippe Gilbert tried and faded. Peter Sagan hit the front on the Cauberg climb, but saw Gasparotto and Jelle Vanendert pass in the final metres. One week later, he placed third in Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
This year, after winning Ghent-Wevelgem and Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, Sagan is the hot favourite to win.
Like Sky’s Spring Classics team, Gasparotto trained at Tenerife to be ready. After coming down from altitude, he raced the Tour of the Basque Country and trained near his home on Lugano. He says he is in better form than last year.
Despite the setback yesterday, Gasparotto travels to Maastricht today in search of another Amstel Gold Race win.