Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) won the 10th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday.
A crash near the finish took down several riders, and the first group to cross the line was relatively small. Bouhanni was ahead of the crash and was not affected. Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) was second and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) took third.
Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) remains in the pink jersey and holds a 57-second lead over Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and a 1:10 gap over Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo).
With 1 kilometer left in the 184km stage from Modena to Salsomaggiore, the race was anyone’s to win. A medium-sized group of riders was at the front and was navigating a series of turns en route to the finishing straight.
As the road turned right, the front third of the group sliced through the curve at high speed. But in the middle of the pack, it appeared that Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) got tangled with another rider and went down hard on his right side. With the field tightly packed, riders next to and behind Farrar had nowhere to go but down.
Bouhanni, who was expected to contend for the stage win after already grabbing two victories (stages 4 and 7) in this race, then dashed to the line first to complete his hat trick.
“It’s never easy,” Bouhanni said. “It was pretty fast in the final sprint. Nizzolo attacked but I was able to go past him.”
Evans finished ninth.
“There were fresher riders and maybe some of the sprinters seeing their last opportunity, so they were taking more risks on the descent,” Evans said. “Then, in the final with the corners, there is only so much space for so many riders. But a lot of them want to be in front.”
Sky quickens pace
A short, uncategorized climb started around 8.5km from the finish and crested with about 5km remaining. During the ascent, Sky riders made their way to the front and pushed the pace hard, possibly trying to wear out the sprinters in the field.
Dario Cataldo took the lead at the 8km mark and hammered it at a furious pace, which fractured the peloton. Riders began falling off the back and the main group splintered into small pockets of riders. Edvald Boasson Hagen took the controls a kilometer later and seemed to bring the speed down just a bit. It seemed that Sky was trying to position Ben Swift to contend for the stage win.
With 3.5km remaining, the front group began to re-form as the pace slowed following a brief descent. Evans was near the front, sitting on another rider’s wheel as he tried to keep the pink jersey safe.
“It went very fast, we saw that here,” Evans said of the pace during a post-stage TV interview. “Off the descent … it makes it a more dangerous finish.”
Trek also worked its way to the sharp end of the group in the final run-in. Then the crash happened and chaos ensued.
BMC loses Eijssen
As the peloton tried to catch a group of two leaders ahead of the final climb, Yannick Eijssen (BMC) and a few other riders crashed with around 18km left. Eijssen was sitting up when team and medical officials began tending to him, but he was quickly put on his back as his injuries were assessed.
Clearly in pain, Eijssen was placed onto a stretcher minutes later and then loaded into an ambulance. His abandonment could have an affect on Evans’ chances of winning the overall crown, as Eijssen was one of his key domestiques.
“It is a big loss because Yannick was doing well and riding strongly,” he said. “It is important to have all of your riders when you are fighting to win the Giro. A lot of other teams have already lost riders and now it is harder for us.”
Italians Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli) and Andrea Fedi (Yellow Fluo) broke away from the peloton early in the stage and opened a sizable gap over the main field. Their lead, however, started to fall over the second half of the route as the peloton decided it was time to shorten the leash.
The gap was down to 3:40 and falling fast with 55km left, and about 3:00 at the 49km mark. At that point, however, the speeding peloton eased up a bit and decided it was a tad too early to close the real estate between the groups. It actually jumped up to 4:00 with 26km remaining before falling again.
Eventually the duo was swept up with about 9.5km left.
The race picks up with Wednesday’s stage 11, a 249km route from Correggio to Savona.
AFP contributed to this report.