'It's the race that keeps giving': Geraint Thomas and Ineos Grenadiers forced to reset after Giro d'Italia crash

Tao Geoghegan Hart abandoned and Pavel Sivakov was hurt in incident that also involved Thomas and Primož Roglič

Geraint Thomas at the finish of stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia
Geraint Thomas at the finish of stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ineos Grenadiers were in a solid position midway through stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia on Wednesday. The team had five riders inside the top 11, including Geraint Thomas in the race lead and Tao Geoghegan Hart in third place. 

On the longest stage of the race, the squad were able to relax a bit, in the knowledge that the sprint teams - Trek-Segafredo and Bahrain-Victorious - were in control of the chase, and so, in theory, it was not a day to be worried.

However, with 69km to go, bad luck struck. As yet more inclement weather meant slippery roads as the race headed into Piedmont, the wheels of Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) gave way on a corner the descent from the Colla di Boasi. Behind him happened to be Thomas, Geoghegan Hart and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), the top three on general classification.

All four hit the deck, along with Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) and Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma). Sivakov and Geoghegan Hart seemed to be the worst off, with the latter forced to abandon, leaving the race in an ambulance.

The day that looked so good earlier on Wednesday ended in if not disaster, then disappointment for Ineos Grenadiers. The team might still have three riders in the top 10 - Thomas, Thymen Arensman and Laurens De Plus - but it has lost Geoghegan Hart. The latter was set to act as the perfect foil for Thomas, and Sivakov has shipped almost 14 minutes, and the extent of his injuries is yet known.

For Thomas, who turns 37 next week, misfortune at the Giro is nothing new - he was forced to abandon in 2017 after being caught up in a collision with a motorbike, and was brought down in a neutralised zone in 2020, again forced to leave the race.

However, that will not make Wednesday any less galling, especially as Geoghegan Hart was looking in such good form. Ineos Grenadiers had already lost one rider, Filippo Ganna, who has headed home thanks to a Covid positive.

"I don’t know exactly [what happened], I know the UAE guy went down first," Thomas told Eurosport/GCN post-race. "Luckily for me, I landed on him. Behind, it was chaos. Tao was badly hurt, and obviously went to hospital. I haven’t heard exactly how he is. Hopefully they’re all ok."

Pavel Sivakov crosses the finish line 14 minutes after the peloton on stage 11

Sivakov crosses the finish line 14 minutes after the peloton on stage 11

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"It’s the Giro, so much happens all the time, with the wet roads..." the Welshman continued. "It’s a big loss for us. But, we will try to focus straight away and concentrate on the rest of the race. There was another big crash at the end and I was lucky to avoid that as well. It’s the race that keeps on giving.

"It’s certainly a blow to lose Tao, obviously it changes the tactics in the big mountain days, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. It’s taking each day as it comes, because as we’ve seen, it’s never straightforward."

Despite the dramatic crash and the impact it has caused, Thomas did not blame Covi for any role he had in the incident.

"Covi didn’t go out there to crash, it’s not his fault," he said. "These things happen, and it’s just unfortunate that he had the top three on GC behind him."

As for Ineos' plans for the rest of the race, there will need to be a change in approach. It is now no longer Roglič v Thomas and Geoghegan Hart, but simply Roglič v Thomas v the rest. It will be interesting to see how the pair match up in the mountain stages, later this week and in the final seven days.

Ineos Grenadiers still has numbers on the GC, something Roglič does not have, but the threat of Arensman and De Plus is not the same as Geoghegan Hart when it comes to attacks or putting riders in moves.

If Thomas is going to win this Giro, he is going to have to do it avoiding Covid and any more misfortune, as well as beating Roglič uphill. It will not be simple.

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.