Sky's Richie Porte questioned whether he should continue in the Giro d'Italia after crashing and losing time in the first two weeks. In the long 59.4-kilometre time trial through the Prosecco hills to Valdobbiadene today, 24 hours after crashing on his left side, he lost a further four minutes and six seconds.
After the stage, which Sky team-mate Vasil Kiryienka won, Porte sat 17th overall at 8-52 minutes behind race leader Spaniard Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo). If he pulled the plug early on the Giro, he would have more time to recover and prepare for helping Chris Froome in the Tour de France this July.
"I'll have a talk with the team physio, Dave and Tim, but in some ways it might make sense and get out of here and look forward to the Tour," Porte told Cycling Weekly.
"It's massively disappointing, but after yesterday, I was gutted. I was on the massage table, things just sinking in, I don't think I did anything wrong, I've just been unlucky."
Porte rode to the team's base in a hotel adjacent to the finish line. He sat and watched Kiryienka win the stage, then grabbed his bag to get into the team car. Beforehand, he stood under a bus stop to escape the rain and talk about his next move.
On the horizon are mostly mountains. Tomorrow, the stage finishes up to the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort at 1715 metres. After a rest day, it continues through the Alps until it reaches Milan on May 31.
"In theory [I'd go for stage wins if I continued], but the way my knee and hip felt today, I'm just not sure. I think I may be making up numbers to be honest," Porte continued.
"We have a good medical staff to deal with [my injuries] but it is not an easy stage tomorrow. The penultimate climb is probably up there with Mortirolo. It is one of the hardest. We will just see."
Porte missed his chance to lead team Sky last year when he fell sick in the spring. He had to skip the Giro and at the Tour, after Froome abandoned, he suffered a bad day. Later, he said he was dealing with pneumonia.
He came into the Giro this year as a hot favourite after overall wins in Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and Giro del Trentino, but he has suffered a series of setbacks in the Giro. In Forlì, he lost 47 seconds due to a puncture. The jury penalised him an additional two minutes because he took a wheel from a rival Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge). The crash yesterday on the wet roads around Venice to Jesolo further pushed him out of the hunt for his first Grand Tour win.
Porte looked disappointed, but tried to make light of his situation. He joked that the key lesson he learned from the Giro is not to take a wheel from another team.
"It's a Grand Tour, you always see that some guys have luck and some have bad luck," he added. "For sure, I came in as good as condition as I could, I was motivated as ever, it felt that it was a massive opportunity, but it hasn't worked out, but now I know what I need to do physically and mentally to prepare for this race."
The pain suffered from the pile-up yesterday, 3.3 kilometres from the finish, made it too hard for Porte to do much more than 55th place in the Valdobbiadene time trial. He said his left hip and knee are bothering him.
"As soon as I started, I could feel it, I just couldn't push," he added. "It's just disappointing. I know the form that I had when I began this Giro."
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1