BELFAST, Northern Ireland (VN) — Just two weeks following a heartbreaking spill within shot of the finish line at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, hard-luck Irishman Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) crashed again in the opening day team time trial at the Giro d’Italia.
Martin is out of the Giro, and 2012 champion Ryder Hesjedal, who did not crash, lost 3:26 to stage winner Orica-GreenEdge as Garmin finished last, with five riders.
It appeared that Martin slipped on a wet, manhole cover, and went tumbling to the asphalt at speeds around 60 kph. Tumbling like dominos on rain-slickened roads in his wake were Nathan Haas, Andre Cardoso, and Koldo Fernández.
Garmin-Sharp officials confirmed later Friday that Martin and Fernandez had suffered broken collarbones. Sport director Charly Wegelius was with Martin and Fernandez at a local hospital. Officials said more information would be forthcoming.
“Today was a tough day and means a change in strategy for the team,” Wegelius said in a team press release. “We came in with two leaders, Dan and Ryder, and a strong team built to support them and give us options through out the race. We still have a strong team and we have Ryder, who’s already won here. It’s heartbreak for Dan in particular, we all know how much this meant to him, but that gives us motivation. We’ll keep fighting forward. These guys are not just teammates; they are good friends and we’ll all use this as motivation for the next three weeks to shake up the race and create opportunities for ourselves. For the team to wait for Dan, for the whole team and the injured who were able to do so — to pick themselves up and press on — shows true courage and character and that’s what we will continue to do here.”
Making it through unscathed were Hesjedal, Tyler Farrar, Thomas Dekker, and Dylan Van Baarle. Needing five riders to log an official time, Garmin was short one man. Luckily, Fabian Wegmann had just trailed off the back, did not crash, and was able to link up with the four other riders.
Once it was obvious Martin was not going to be able to continue, the remaining five riders pushed on to the finish line to salvage what they could.
“I didn’t see it. There were four of us, and we had to wait,” Hesjedal said after coming out of an anti-doping control. “I haven’t really had time to think about [the GC implications].”
The implications were clear enough. Martin is out of the race, and Hesjedal is down around three minutes to all of the main GC protagonists.
Martin started the Giro on home roads with ambitions for the top 10 and a stage victory. In an instant, all was lost.
Now Garmin will regroup, assess injuries to the other riders, and try to salvage the Giro with a stage victory or two.