Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) lost the race lead at the Giro d’Italia today in Verona, Italy, at the end of a 33.2-kilometre team time trial. A crash, the same that involved Mark Cavendish (Sky) two days ago, sapped his strength and sprained his ankle.
“I just had like THE worst day on the bike today,” he told Cycling Weekly. “I don’t really know what that’s from, if it’s a combination of the ankle and trying to recover. I don’t really know. I’m pretty sad to lose the jersey, especially in that way.”
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Phinney only found out in the small hours of Tuesday that he could continue in the Giro d’Italia. He took the race lead on Saturday in Herning, but crashed down and crossed the line in an ambulance on Monday. Due to the rules regarding crashes in the last three kilometres, he kept the jersey and enjoyed the podium presentation. However, he had to rush to travel back with the other Giro cyclists on a chartered flight to Verona and head straight to the hospital.
Shortly after midnight, he found out he was clear to continue, but needed stitches and a lot of wrapping. Even with a rest day yesterday, he rode below par today.
“I would’ve liked to put up more of a fight,” he explained. “I felt like I was just dragging the team down with me.”
BMC Racing placed 10th, 31 seconds behind time trial specialists, Garmin-Barracuda. The time loss saw Phinney’s pink jersey go to Garmin’s Ramunas Navardauskas.
Besides fighting to save his lead, he fought to stay on track. Phinney overshot a right-hander, rode through the grass and, 10 metres later, back on the road. Grass dangled from his shoe and rear derailleur.
“I felt like I was fine on that corner, but Thor [Hushovd] takes the corners pretty fast,” Phinney said. “I found myself on the outside of the wheel in front of me and I just got kind of pushed off the road. I thought I was going to do a big somersault. I miraculously held it up.”
Phinney looked down at his right ankle, thankful he’d just made it through the day after Monday’s crash.
“I’m happy I can pedal my bike. If you look at my foot, it doesn’t give a lot of confidence. It’s completely black and blue and fully swollen. But I managed to tape it up nicely and ride, and put down some power, but still I just had a terrible day.”
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Giro d’Italia 2012: Stage reports
Stage four: Garmin-Barracuda win TTT to take lead
Stage three: Goss wins in Horsens as Cavendish and Phinney crash
Stage two: Cavendish wins in Herning
Stage one: Phinney wins time trial
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Giro d’Italia 2012: TV guide