Tao Geoghegan Hart’s bid to secure a second career Giro d’Italia came to an abrupt and shocking halt on stage 11, after the Ineos Grenadiers rider was forced to abandon the race with a fractured hip after crashing on a slippery descent which also saw teammate and current pink jersey holder Geraint Thomas, as well as pre-race favourite Primož Roglič, hit the ground.
The 28-year-old British rider, who won the 2020 Giro and was sitting in third place overall at this year’s chaotic edition, just five seconds behind Thomas, slid and lost control of his bike around 70km from the finish of Wednesday’s stage to Tortona, on the descent of the Colla di Boasi.
Geoghegan Hart appeared to be in some pain following the shocking spill, which saw UAE Team Emirates’ Italian rider Alessandro Covi first slide out on the slick left hander, followed by maglia rosa Thomas, second-place Roglič, and Pavel Sivakov, and was carried by stretcher into an ambulance shortly afterwards.
However, although the Londoner’s fall was heavy, with his injuries requiring medical treatment, the Ineos Grenadiers rider was conscious and appeared to be talking to teammates before removing his helmet as he lay in the road.
Following the stage, the Ineos Grenadiers confirmed that Geoghegan Hart was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Genoa, where it was revealed that he had suffered a fractured left hip, which will require surgery.
😱 Oh la chute dans le peloton !
— Eurosport France (@Eurosport_FR) May 17, 2023
Meanwhile, both Thomas and Roglič don’t appear to have sustained any serious injuries in the crash, and quickly regained their place in the peloton, though Covi and key Ineos domestique Sivakov were clearly suffering with cuts but managed to finish the stage.
UAE Team Emirates, however, later confirmed that Covi will not start Thursday’s stage 12 to Rivoli after sustaining a “possible fracture to his sacrum”.
That startling and race-changing spill, which interrupted what was until that point an uncharacteristically calm day at the Giro, was swiftly followed by another shocking crash, which saw Movistar’s Óscar Rodríguez dramatically grab hold of a road sign to avoid colliding with a building.
28-year-old Spaniard Rodríguez, unfortunately, also abandoned the Giro following his frightening crash, leaving just 139 riders left in the peloton from the original 176 as the grand tour passes its halfway mark, the race’s highest attrition rate by this stage for more than two decades.
“I don’t really know exactly [what happened],” pink jersey Thomas said of the crash that ended Geoghegan Hart’s Giro after the stage. “A UAE guy was next to me. He went down first and luckily for me I just landed on him.
“Then behind it was chaos. Obviously Tao was hurt and didn’t get up and went to hospital. Pavel also knocked himself about a bit. Roglič also, I saw him at the finish, and he had a fleshy cut on his hip. Hopefully they’re all okay.
“I think it’s just the Giro – so much happens all the time, with the wet roads as well. It’s a big, big loss for us but we try to focus straight away and focus on the rest of the race. As you saw at the end there was another big crash and I was lucky to avoid that as well. It’s the race that keeps on giving.”
Pascal Ackermann beats Jonathan Milan and Mark Cavendish on stage 11 of the 2023 Giro d’Italia (Zac Williams/SWpix.com)
After another day of chaos, Covid, and crashes, a typically frenetic sprint finish in Tortona saw Pascal Ackermann pip the superfast-finishing Jonathan Milan by the tightest of margins for the stage win, as both riders overhauled a strong-looking Mark Cavendish in the dying metres, with the Astana sprinter nevertheless managing to secure a very encouraging third place following a difficult first week at the Giro.
However, the story of stage 11 will doubtlessly be dominated by Geoghegan Hart’s withdrawal from the race, which comes as the 28-year-old – who took his first GC win since his breakthrough Giro triumph at the Tour of the Alps last month – appeared to be in the form of his life.
The British rider’s dramatic abandon means that the 2023 Giro (a race already devastated by the resurgence of Covid-19 within the peloton) has lost another pink jersey challenger before the grand tour even reaches its decisive final week, following Remco Evenepoel’s Covid-19-induced withdrawal on Sunday night and Tuesday’s loss of the sick Bora-Hansgrohe leader Aleksandr Vlasov.
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.