Bradley Wiggins survives another late scare as a crash stops half the bunch in its tracks
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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Bradley Wiggins survives another late scare as a crash stops half the bunch in its tracks

by Ben Atkins at 2:46 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Giro d’Italia favourite caught behind the crash but the sprinters’ teams ease up

bradley wigginsBradley Wiggins (Team Sky) faced the prospect of losing time in a hectic stage finish for the third time in four days as a crash split the peloton in the closing kilometres of today’s Giro d’Italia sixth stage. The Tour de France champion had just gone back to his team car to change his bike but, by the team the greater part of the Sky team had paced him back up to the peloton with 33km to go, the road was blocked by the bodies and bikes of several riders.

Stung into life by the incident the Katusha team of race leader Luca Paolini immediately started driving on the front to protect the Italian and his Maglia Rosa but, once the situation became clear - and news got around that more than half the peloton was currently stationary on the road behind it - the Russian team eased up.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step and FDJ then moved up to the front of the peloton, where they had been stationed for most of the day but kept the pace at a level that allowed Wiggins and the rest to rejoin.

“Bradley needed a bike change minutes before that crash, so although he wasn’t involved in it, he did get stuck behind it,” explained former German champion Christian Knees, who had been one of only two Team Sky riders in the front half of the peloton.

“The boys did a brilliant job pacing him back on but I got caught up the road,” Knees continued. “It was so loud in the bunch that I couldn’t hear over the race radio what had happened behind me until it was too late. When I found out I went straight to the front and told the FDJ and Quick-Step guys to stop pulling.”

With neither Omega Pharma-Quick Step or FDJ having any overall ambitions in the race, and with neither wanting to take advantage of the misfortune of many of their rivals, both teams agreed to ease up.

“They agreed to ease off a little but the pace was still high so the boys had to ride hard to bring Bradley back on,” said Knees. “They did a great job and then I moved him towards the front to keep him out of any further trouble.”

“This was the last sprint day for a while, so that’s why it was so hectic, and we knew we had to stay safe at the front. In the end we did that so we’re all happy with how things turned out.”

Once back in the peloton, and with Wiggins safely up at the front of the peloton, Team Sky mixed it with the teams of several of the other overall contenders, including Ryder Hesjedal’s Garmin-Sharp and Vincenzo Nibali’s Astana. Into the final three kilometres Wiggins himself was driving the pace, before handing over to the sprinters teams for what was to be a quite hectic finale.

"That was a fantastic team performance today and everything worked out in the end,” said Team Sky directeur sportif Marcus Ljungqvist. “As soon as Bradley needed a new bike, there were seven riders around him and Christian was able to slow things down up the road.

"It took some hard work to bring Bradley back on but these guys will recover tonight ahead of a tough day tomorrow,’ Ljungqvist added.

"Bradley was appreciative of their efforts and he's looking in great shape for time trial on Saturday. First though he has to get tomorrow's stage out of the way and it's going to be a tough test for everyone."

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