Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) came away from Giro d’Italia stage four thankful for limiting time losses to rivals after crashes marred the final.
Yates lost 16 seconds to pink jersey leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). Other rivals, including 2017 winner Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) at 4-02 minutes back, lost more.
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He pointed to his knee, saying: “My hip as well and just my left hand side. I’m OK. We’ll see how I pull up tomorrow, it’s always the worst in the morning.”
The British rider remains second overall but now at 35 second back behind Slovenian Roglič.
“Everyone was fighting for position for a roundabout with about six kilometres to go, a rider slid out in front of me. It was no one’s fault. I’m not blaming anyone,” Yates said.
“I got up quickly and had the guys around me to limit the losses.
“After a crash, it depends how you are, if you are really bad you stay on the floor! And if not, you get your bike as fast as possible.”
Yates, winner of the 2018 Vuelta a España, raced ahead quickly with his team-mates.
“We just try to stay safe, that’s what everyone tries to do. Crashes are a part of the sport, unfortunately,” he added.
“I think it’s been OK up until now. Today could’ve been a bit smoother but the Giro’s no worse than any other race.”
Yates early time loss, 19 seconds, came in the eight-kilometre uphill time trial that started the race on Saturday in Bologna.
“Of course, I wouldn’t like to lose any more time,” he said. “The gap was already probably too big.”
Roglič began the Giro d’Italia a hot favourite, having going three for three in the stage races he entered this 2019 season. He won the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie a week before the Giro – all WorldTour races.
Today, he appeared untouchable while other rivals stopped behind crashes or worse, sat mangled in them.
“I guess I was more in the front because I didn’t see any of the crashes,” Roglič said. “The thing is, all us GC guys are in the front and fighting to be in front to avoid all these unnecessary bad things can happen. That’s why it’s always a big fight to be up there.
“It’s hard to say [why this happens]. I think that people make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s a bad thing if with that mistake you cause other guys to crash.”
Roglič managed another hectic day and remained in the pink jersey. However, 17 stages remain in the Giro for him.
“We’ll see. Hopefully I manage it. I am looking for that that,” he said.
“Of course Simon is a very dangerous rider, Vincenzo [Nibali] also, but we have also a lot of guys who can surprise. We see how fast bad things can happen so you have to stay focused.”