Abrasions showing on his arm and leg, David Millar cut a tired figure as he explained where his maglia rosa defence went wrong after an action packed fifth stage of the Giro.
“I’m f***ed, I have really bad allergies,” he said. “I always get them in this part of Italy. It wasn’t possible [to defend the jersey].”
On a stage made difficult enough by sections of gravel road and strade bianche, he first came down while sprinting, in the innocuous pursuit of bonus seconds, against rival Angelo Vicioso.
Jettisoned 30 kilometres from the finish, the Garmin-Cervelo rider took risks to regain the front group, riding with Italian pair Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas) and Fabio Taborre (Acqua e Sapone).
However, it was curtains on the steep ramp before the finish in Orvieto, as the Briton lost nearly three minutes to stage winner and new leader Weening.
The day also saw another horror crash, sustained by Rabobank rider Tom Jelte Slagter. The Dutchman fractured his jawbone, received contusions and needed stitches for a wound, but was cleared of brain damage at Orvieto Hospital.
While peers Danilo di Luca and Alessandro Petacchi criticised the inclusion of the strade bianche in this year’s race, Millar hinted that the risk doesn’t change: “It was dangerous, but it’s like that. We had to be extra careful, but the ambulances were always near by.”
Millar’s spell in the maglia rosa was tinged with sadness after Wouter Weylandt’s death; the Briton helped to organise a tribute to him.
Giro d’Italia 2011: Latest news
Blythe finding way in second Grand Tour
Leopard-Trek withdraws from Giro d’Italia
Leopard-Trek uncertain to continue in Giro
Tuesday’s Giro stage in memory of Weylandt
Giro doctor describes actions to save Weylandt
Wouter Weylandt killed in Giro crash
Giro news shorts (May 8)
Cavendish likely to take Giro lead tomorrow
Giro 2011: Who will win?
Kennaugh to lead Team Sky in Giro’s opening stage
Nibali’s Giro fight with Contador may reach the courtroom
Riis defends Contador’s participation in Giro
Cavendish set to start winning again at the Giro
Doping investigations force cyclists out of Giro d’Italia
Kennaugh replaces Pauwels in Sky’s Giro line-up
Contador scouts out the Giro mountains
Cavendish and Millar top list of Giro-bound Brits
Lampre likely for Giro despite doping investigation
Giro announces record 23 teams to race
2011 Giro to start in Turin with team time trial
Giro goes one up on the Tour with spectacular route
Nygaard, Sciandri and Lloyd comment on 2011 Giro route
Nibali’s Giro d’Italia?
Giro d’Italia 2011: Stage reports
Giro d’Italia 2011: Live text coverage
Giro d’Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d’Italia 2011: TV schedule