Having suffered a broken wrist just a few weeks before the start of the 2021 Giro d'Italia, Vincenzo Nibali says his campaign for a third overall title "isn't getting much better" after crashing on stage eight.
The Italian, who won his home race in 2013 and 2016, has flown somewhat under the radar so far and sits in 16th place on GC, 1-43 down on race leader Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ).
Nibali's prospects at winning this year's Giro were dealt a major blow after his training crash the resulted in a fractured radius bone. The injury required surgery, and the 36-year-old is wearing a carbon brace to support it during the race.
Nibali did not sound overly optimistic after stage eight of the race, a medium mountain day won by the Victor Lafay (Cofidis) from the breakaway, with no major changes in the GC. He punctured early on in the stage while the breakaway was still forming, before crashing on a bend in a town further down the route.
Speaking after the stage Nibali said the injuries weren't bad and just some bruising, but indicated he would prioritise supporting his Trek-Segafredo team-mate Giulio Ciccone on Sunday's stage nine in the high mountains. Ciccone has impressed with his attacking in the opening week, and sits further up the GC than Nibali in seventh place, just 41 seconds off the overall lead.
"My Giro started uphill and isn't getting much better," Nibali said after stage eight.
"I’ve been through a lot today in the first part of the stage. First, a puncture and then a slip on a bend while going through a small town.
"I have a few bruises. Well, that's the way it is right now; I have to deal with it. I will think about recovering and look ahead.
"We have Ciccone who is going strong; it's right to stay close to him and to support him as a team. Tomorrow will be a tough and important stage. Let's focus on the team goal."
Stage nine will be a tough climbing test for the Giro peloton. The 158km stage from Castel di Sangro to Campo Felice begins on an unclassified climb before taking on five more climbs, four of which are classified. The final test is the category one summit finish, Campo Felice, a 5.7km climb that averages 5.8 per cent in gradient. The final 1.5km average over eight per cent however, with a 14 per cent ramp in the final 500m.
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