Alberto Contador surrendered the race leader’s jersey in the Giro d’Italia as a dramatic late crash put Fabio Aru into pink in Jesolo.
On paper, Friday’s pan-flat 147km stage 13 from Montecchio Maggiore looked as simple as could be, but a big crash just outside the final three kilometres caused chaos, and all but ended the hopes of Team Sky’s luckless Richie Porte.
While Lampre-Merida’s Sacha Modolo sprinted to victory ahead, around 20 riders were left picking themselves up around 3.2km from the finish.
There was initial confusion – time is neutralised if a crash is inside the last 3km – but it soon emerged that the race order had been ripped up.
Astana’s young Italian rider Aru, who started the day 17 seconds down on Contador in second, avoided trouble but his general classification rivals were not so lucky.
Contador grabbed the bike of a Tinkoff-Saxo team-mate and raced to the finish to limit his losses, leaving him 19 seconds down on Aru in second, but Porte – already controversially penalised two minutes for accepting a spare wheel from a rival team on stage 10 – surrendered more than two minutes and slipped to 16th in the GC standings, more than five minutes down on Aru.
The news for Team Sky was little better at the front of the race, with local boy Elia Viviani having to settle for third behind Modolo and Trek Factory’s Giacomo Nizzolo in the sprint, although he did reclaim the points leader’s red jersey.
This stage was intended to provide one last spotlight for the sprinters with the general classification battle supposedly waiting for today’s long time trial –seen as an opportunity for Porte to get back into contention although that is surely beyond the Australian now.