Jos van Emden blames Alpecin-Fenix rider for causing mass pile-up on stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia 2021

The Dutch time trial specialist broke seven ribs in the crash along with multiple other injuries

Jos van Emden following the stage 15 crash at the Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jos van Emden has blamed Alpecin-Fenix rider Gianni Vermeersch for causing him a mass pile-up early on stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia 2021 

Van Emden (Jumbo-Visma) had to abandon the race with seven broken ribs, lung contusion and multiple cuts and bruises along with it. 

Dutchman Van Emden was one of a large number of riders who went down just 3km into stage 15 from Grado to Gorizia, which resulted in the stage being neutralised just as riders were attacking to make the breakaway. 

The crash also saw overall contender Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) abandon after suffering a concussion and cuts to his face. Joining them on the abandon list were Natnael Berhane (Cofidis) and Ruben Guerreiro (EF-Nippo).

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Speaking to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Van Emden said: "Gianni Vermeersch just drove me off the bike. I had already addressed him once in the race about his dangerous riding behaviour. My team-mate Paul Martens saw it happen. Vermeersch suddenly moved to the left. He must have gotten stuck behind my rear wheel.

"I didn't have a chance, couldn't even touch my brakes, when you ride at 65kph or even faster, you bounce nicely on the ground. I already knew it was over when I was still in the air. I still had airtime, as they call it. The blow was enormous. They fell over me, which immediately made me short of breath and felt a terrible pain in my back."

Following the crash in the bunch, the race organisers were quick to stop the race to allow medical staff to attend to the injured riders. By the end of the stage, five riders had pulled out of the race. 

Dutch time trial champion Van Emden would have been hoping to make it to Milan as he has history of winning on the final day of the Giro in the time trial, taking stage 21 of the 2017 Giro.

Vermeersch is riding his first-ever Grand Tour along with all but one of his team at this year's race with his team also making their three-week race debut too. The cyclo-cross rider managed fifth place on stage 10, which was won by Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).