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Near Miss of the Day, Giro d’Italia edition: Davide Ballerini swerves to narrowly avoid team car on climb, after attacking Green Project-Bardiani rider squeezes between peloton and parked vehicles

Meanwhile, Ireland’s in-form star Ben Healy experienced his own near miss, as he was outsprinted by Brandon McNulty after lighting up stage 15 to Bergamo

A slight change to our normal Near Miss of the Day schedule now, as we give your submissions of poor driving a short break to instead head to the equally fraught and dangerous world of the Giro d’Italia, where not one but two members of today’s breakaway experienced their own in-race close calls with vehicles during a dramatic stage 15 to Bergamo.

Having made the decisive early move on what was billed as a mini Tour of Lombardy, Soudal-Quick Step’s fast man-cum-classics contender Davide Ballerini spent the bulk of his 150km-plus up the road struggling on the long, tough climbs peppered throughout the stage, before gamely fighting his way back to the front as the road flattened.

On one of those retrieval missions, with around 85km to go as the riders headed up the Miragolo San Salvatore, the 28-year-old Italian was just about to regain contact on a bend when the driver of the lead commissaire’s vehicle – for some reason – began to veer off the road, forcing the Intermarché-Circus-Wanty staff member following closely behind to jink left, right into Ballerini’s path.

> Kaden Groves defends himself after admitting to causing crash at Giro d’Italia which took Mark Cavendish out

The 2021 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner then showcased his expert bike handling ability, swiftly swerving at the last second through an extremely narrow gap to avoid what would have been a disastrous, and wholly avoidable, crash.

Davide Ballerini squeezes through gap after driver swerves during 2023 Giro d'Italia (GCN)

The tiny gap Ballerini was forced to squeeze through… Yikes

Before that moment of questionable driving behind the breakaway, Ballerini enjoyed a much less stressful moment with some enthusiastic members of his fan club:

But the Italian’s super save wasn’t the only close encounter with motor vehicles for members of the break today.

At the start of the stage, as the key moves were disappearing up the road, Green Project-Bardiani’s Martin Marcellusi attacked up the far-left side of the peloton, just about squeezing between the rest of the bunch and the spectators and parked cars that were slightly jutting out into the road:

At the front of the race, away from all the car-related drama, EF Education-EasyPost’s Ben Healy, the startlingly impressive winner of stage eight to Fossombrone, proved once again that he’s one of the peloton’s most in-form riders with a searingly strong ride on the day’s climbs (complete with a spot of an entertaining spot of argy-bargy while sprinting for KOM points alongside Movistar’s Einer Rubio).

However, diamonds in the legs can often lead to tactical mistakes, and while the 22-year-old Irish star underlined his strength with a series of blistering attacks, UAE Team Emirates’ Brandon McNulty played an altogether cooler game.

The American was good enough to force the final selection of three, which also included Israel-Premier Tech rider Marco Frigo, and hang onto Healy’s rampage up into Bergamo’s old town in the final three kilometres. The 25-year-old then astutely sat on the Irishman’s wheel on the rapid descent to the finish, allowed him to respond to the resurgent Firgo’s momentum-filled surge, and then possessed enough of a kick to take the first grand tour stage win of his career.

For Healy, I suppose those kind of near misses are easier to swallow when you already have a Giro stage win in the bag.

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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