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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 road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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2 comments

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belugabob | 1 year ago
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I'm surprised that there aren't more car/bike collisions - the team DS usually drives the car AND operates the radio, despite having somebody else in the car who could be the driver. It's possibly related to the other person having to jump out, when a rider needs help, but it's not a good safety image.

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Rendel Harris replied to belugabob | 1 year ago
3 likes
belugabob wrote:

I'm surprised that there aren't more car/bike collisions - the team DS usually drives the car AND operates the radio, despite having somebody else in the car who could be the driver. It's possibly related to the other person having to jump out, when a rider needs help, but it's not a good safety image.

It's generally even more pointless than that as the mechanic is usually sitting in the back, the person in the passenger seat is usually an assistant DS or soigneur there to sort the food and water out. It's high time the UCI mandated that the driver should just drive and nothing else, no handing out bottles or food and definitely no radio. This would not only improve rider safety in races but it would stop promoting a poor image of safe driving to spectators (well if a DS can watch the TV feed, hand out bidons, be on the radio and drive safely around cyclists all at 40mph I don't see why I can't use my mobile at 20mph...).

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