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Giro Stage 7 reaction: Sky and Astana on crashes that open up big gap between Nibali and Wiggins

Nibali talks about his chutes, Brailsford says all not lost and says decision of Uran and Henao to stay back to help Wiggins was the correct one

Team Sky and Astana have provided their reaction to a tough Stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia today in which their respective big hopes for the overall win, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Vincenzo Nibali, both crashed on roads made treacherous by heavy rain. The stage was won by lone escapee Adam Hansen of Lotto-Belisol, but it’s the effect on GC that provides the big talking point, with Wiggins losing nearly a minute and a half to Nibali.

The Sicilian had already crashed twice by the time Wiggins suffered his chute on a descent from the final climb today, crested 7.5km from the finish in Pescara.

It’s the latter incident, however, that potentially has more ramifications for the overall - by contrast with Nibali, who remounted and continued to press ahead, Wiggins, who had looked nervous enough before his fall, perhaps mindful of the crash that ended his 2011 Tour de France challenge, seemed to lose his nerve altogether afterwards.

“Bradley’s fine. There’s no physical injury,” said Sky team principal Sir Dave Brailsford afterwards, easing concerns that Wiggins may have hurt his elbow in the crash.

“Ultimately when you have difficult conditions like these and hard racing this type of thing can happen. It’s the Giro.

“You can have good days and bad days and you have to wait until the end to tot them all up and see where you are. It’s a setback, but Brad’s still very much in the hunt.

“We’ve now got to take each day as it comes, focus on fully recovering tonight and hitting the time trial hard tomorrow.

“We’ll see where we are tomorrow night and take stock of the situation then.”

Wiggins had been expected to move into the maglia rosa tomorrow, and that may yet happen, though he lost time not only to Nibali but some of the stronger time triallists among the GC challengers such as defending champion Ryder Hesjedal and the Briton’s predecessor as Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans.

The time Wiggins lost also potentially changes the complexion of the race once the time trial is over, because any time advantage he emerges from it with will only come after he has first clawed back just shy of a minute and a half on his rivals.

Unlike the Tour de France, the Giro has time bonuses for the top three finishers on stages, something that will encourage late bursts from attacking riders such as Nibali, but not in line with Wiggins’ usual style.

One possibility is that Team Sky could use Rigoberto Uran or Sergio Henao to try and prevent rivals from picking up some of those bonuses – certainly both are strong enough to challenge for stage wins – but today both fell down the GC after holding back to help Wiggins.

There’s been plenty of talk in recent days about rifts within the Sky camp, with the Colombian pair said to be leaving at the end of the season and even intent on challenging Wiggins’ leadership here – their actions today put that latter rumour firmly to rest, at least – and Brailsford insists they made the right decision today.

“It’s the team’s call,” he explained. “They are here to ride for a leader. When you’re dedicated to a single leader that’s the call that the team made and that’s the right call as far as I’m concerned.

“You’ve got to take setbacks on the chin and you have to show character. That’s what it’s all about and you have to keep fighting right until the end and that’s what we’ll aim to do. There’s a long way to go.”

The conditions today were meat and drink to Nibali, widely acknowledged to be the best descender in the peloton, who used an attack on a similarly tricky stage in the rain not far from here to set up the successful defence of his Tirreno-Adriatico title in March.

The Sicilian ends the day second overall on GC, five seconds behind new race leader Benat Intxausti of Movistar, but it was nevertheless surprising to see him too fall victim to the conditions, albeit without the loss of time that Wiggins suffered.

"I didn't even expect the second crash, but when it is wet and cold I am one of the riders who goes better,” admitted Nibali afterwards.

“Today was a very important finish, but there are still two weeks."

The parcours of today’s race would have been difficult enough even in perfect conditions, but Astana DS Alexandr Shefer agreed that it was a late downpour that led to rider after rider crashing during a tricky final 50 kilometres with four categorised climbs.

"We had tactics today to try and win the stage,” he said. “Tanel Kangert attacked to get away early on the final slopes, and then Vincenzo went to join him.

“But when Vincenzo fell that broke the rhythm, and then the whole peloton started to crash, and it was impossible to get much speed with most of the riders trying to ride as safely as possible before tomorrow.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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BigBear63 | 11 years ago

Uran & Henao obviously did the right thing. Character has to be exhibited not only by the riders though but by the Team managers as well. If Sky had decided to switch from Wiggo to Uran mid-race it would show nothing but contempt for their riders and their own policy. No one would want to ride for them and they would be a source of derision in the peleton and with the viewing public. Like Brailsford says you have to take it on the chin and get on with it. I agree Wiggo is not a typical stage winner (whatever that means); he doesn't have the sprinting pace nor does he have the ability to burst off on the climbs. However, GC is about managing your weaknesses and capitalising on your strengths. Wiggos strength is time trialling, which, correct me if I'm wrong, is always part of the Grand Tours, and as he has steadied his ability on Cat1 & HC climbs he puts himself in with a shot.

Just because Wiggo has had a set back doesn't mean he is out of it and for people to write that the Colombians should suddenly jump ship and do their own thing says more about the lack of character in those writers than it does about Wiggins inability to confidently ride down a steep wet road.

mikeprytherch | 11 years ago

Today was not a ride of a Giro winner by Wiggins, he hasn't looked in good nick so far, this talk of him being in better shape is bull from what I can see, shame really, I wished he had shut his mouth and just got on with riding instead of talking himself up winning the Giro and the TdF

crazy-legs replied to mikeprytherch | 11 years ago
mikeprytherch wrote:

I wished he had shut his mouth and just got on with riding instead of talking himself up winning the Giro and the TdF

That's what annoys me too - to be fair it's more the media seizing on any angle they can but you get the same with most sports.
Look at Wimbledon: for years it was "Henman's going to win, he's the star of the show, yay for Tim...oh no, he's crashed out in the quarters again..."

It's almost a way of raising someone onto a pedesatal so high they can't climb onto it, then kicking them when they fail. I'm just surprised Sky/Brad haven't learnt to shut the fuck up, go into each race with a game plan and play the cards close to their chest rather than all this "we're here to win!" bravado.

You just look even more foolish when you (almost inevitably) don't win...

Old Man Miller | 11 years ago

Agreed Gkam84 - he'll be moping around like a spoilt brat. Perhaps if he rode the way Nibali did after his crash he'd still be right up there.

Nick T | 11 years ago

Meh, if you plan on gingerly mincing your way to the finish line after a crash, what do you need your shepherds for. Let them go and defend their own times in case you do pop your collar again.

Gkam84 | 11 years ago

It was a bad call keeping Uran back, because there will be lists of excuses rolling around Wiggo's head right now. Then he'll not bother if he doesn't pull back decent time in the TT and will hold one of his press conferences to tell people its alright, has is going to compete for the TdF......

P.S. I'm NOT a Wiggo fan, he's to far up his own rectum for my liking  26

Metjas | 11 years ago

Adam Hansen ride of the week so far, respect! Great to see such a hard working domestique who thinks nothing of riding all 3 grand tours in a season in support of his team leaders get a chance to nail the biggest win of his career.

spongebob | 11 years ago

Bad call keeping Uran back I think

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