Eurosport expert Brian Smith has questioned why Stage 5 at the Giro d’Italia finished in the town of Cattolica after a spree of crashes marred the finale.
Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) was taken to hospital in an ambulance with suspected upper-body fractures, while Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) crashed into a tree after running out of road. Both GC hopefuls have now abandoned.
Landa was caught up in a three-man crash also involving mountains classification leader Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates). Dombrowski clipped a signaller guarding some road furniture inside the final five kilometres, causing the Spaniard and Francois Bidard (AG2R Citroen) to also crash.
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On a pan-flat stage, breakaway attempts were quickly thwarted as the whole peloton entered the tighter, bendy and obstacle-littered roads into Cattolica together.
Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) swept to his first win at this year’s race, but all the attention was on what had happened a few kilometres earlier.
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“I was looking at the way Bahrain Victorious were riding. They were riding at the front, they were doing all the right things,” said Smith on The Breakaway.
“But we saw it happen a few years ago at Milan-San Remo with Mark Cavendish hitting the central reservation.
“When it’s chaos and things are happening, it’s so noisy and you’re looking for your teammates, it’s just that [one] moment and your race could be over.”
Smith insisted no one was to blame for the incident, but wondered whether it was sensible to send the peloton down riskier roads before a sprint finish.
“Why take it into the town in the first place?” he said.
“Why couldn’t they have just avoided all those corners? They want to show off the area, they want to show off the seaside, but with safety in mind… We’ve been on a call with the UCI saying they want to make it as safe as possible.”
Maglia rosa incumbent Alessandro De Marchi branded the finale a "crazy circus".
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“When the pink jersey is saying it was dangerous. The sprinters just deal with it, but a lot of them would say that’s dangerous in the run-in. We could see it. We were watching and going ‘ooohhh, that looks bad’,” continued Smith.
“At the end of the day, if we want safety then you can’t take it in [to towns]. You have to make it a lot easier. But you still have to be very attentive.
“I don’t think Landa was at fault and I don’t think the race organisers could do anything more than put a marshal there and put padding there. It’s just one of these unfortunate things in cycling.”
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