Bradley Wiggins (Sky) survived day one of the Giro d’Italia through the chaotic streets of Naples today. Despite several crashes, including one with team-mate Xabier Zandio, and stray dogs, the Tour de France champion rode safely through the day.
“Brad’s happy to be there and lose no time,” sports director, Marcus Ljungqvist told Cycling Weekly. “It was just staying out of trouble today.”
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Several crashes marked the 130-kilometre stage through Naples’ streets. Zandio crashed with Euskaltel’s Pablo Urtasun, who came off worse. Ljungqvist told Cycling Weekly that Zandio is fine and ready to continue.
Ljungqvist added it was tense today given the circuit and the Giro’s first day.
“The combination of having the first day of a Grand Tour, a circuit and a sprint stage in the city like this… For sure it adds a bit of extra tension,” Ljungqvist explained.
“A point to point stage would’ve been safer for sure, but it’s just more fun for the spectators to see.”
Naples welcomed the race’s finish in 1968, when Eddy Merckx won his first Grand Tour. In 1963, it hosted the start for the first and only other time.
Italians recognise Naples for the famous Vesuvius volcano, but also for trash and chaos. Motorists seldom respect road signs or white lines, and pedestrians are just as brave.
Several teams bussed their riders out of town to train. Omega Pharma asked a former rider to lead Mark Cavendish and its other team-mates on their rides. Wiggins and his helpers rode straight from their hotel in Naples.
“In Italy the food’s great. The Lambrettas are around; I’d like to add another one to my collection. And the fans, of course,” Wiggins told journalists yesterday. “The traffic here in Naples is crazy, though, and that’s even for someone who was raised in London. It doesn’t even compare, it’s shocked me in these last days.”
After the stage, Wiggins complemented Cavendish for surviving and winning.
“He’s the fastest man in the world, when he’s not moaning, he’s winning. It’s brilliant,” Wiggins told Sky TV. “It’s superb and such a shame he’s on a different team because I would’ve love to have been there leading him out.”