Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) won Tirreno-Adriatico stage four in Fossombrone despite crashing twice, showing that "you never know what can happen" in cycling.
Lutsenko's favourable 54-second lead tumbled when he fell in the closing circuit. He kept his gap by quickly returning to his bike. However, falling a second time in the final two kilometres allowed chasers Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) – race leader, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Astana team-mate Jakob Fuglsang to catch on. Never giving up, Lutsenko then dug deep to win the sprint.
"After the first crash, I felt pretty bad and then after the second one, I just had to keep fighting," the Kazakh road champion said. "Now, I'm just without words given all the people who're happy for me.
"With the crashes, it didn't change anything: I had to keep fighting for the win. This is cycling, you never know what will happen. I crashed twice but I still won, it shows you never know."
Lutsenko comes off a recent overall win in the Tour of Oman. He is building for the Ardennes Classics, skipping Milan-San Remo after Tirreno-Adriatico to train at attitude to be ready. The 221 kilometres from the Umbria into the Marche region proved to be a perfect testing ground.
"Today the roads were up and down the whole time and with some hard ramps," he said. "Hard roads with short climbs that suited me, those two-kilometre climbs.
"I attacked with 50km to go and I took around 30 seconds to 50 seconds and I was going for it, but then those crashes..."
Down his left side, road rash gave evidence of his falls. On the second one, he slid on the pavement.
"I don't know how they happened, but today many riders crashed," he continued.
A crash saw both Tony Martin and Laurens De Plus (Jumbo-Visma) fall today. A serious looking fall saw American Ian Boswell (Katusha-Alpecin) forced out of the race.
"Maybe because I felt a little bit nervous and also because the roads in Italy are up and down, and left and right, and definitely not like the ones in Oman, big roads, 20 metres wide."
Lutsenko seemed to be ruled out when the three chasers caught him. However, his team-mate Fuglsang did not counter-attack and Roglic raced to the line for the win and bonus seconds.
"When they passed me at 600 metres, I got on Roglič's wheel," Lutsenko said. "And I thought, I need to give it everything because I have to win after all this work."
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