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VICENZO, Italy (VN) — Two prominent names did not take the start Friday at the Giro d’Italia as the wet and wild finale in stage 12 sent more than a few riders clattering to the pavement.
Conditions were treacherous over narrow and rain-marred roads coming in the final hour of racing. FDJ’s Alexandre Geniez could barely hang on through the corners, kicking out his legs to help steer through the descents.
Thursday’s uphill punch was ideal for Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge), but he was tangled up in a crash late in the stage. The 2014 Liège-Bastogne-Liège champion managed to finish, but did not start Friday in what the team described as a “precautionary measure.”
“It’s obviously really disappointing for Simon today,” Orica sport director Matt White said. “There hasn’t been much time for medical staff to assess too deeply yet, but the good news is while it is sore, it looks to be just some skin off.”
Stefan Küng (BMC Racing), who was hoping for a strong ride in Saturday’s time trial, suffered a compression fracture of his T9 vertebrae when he crashed with two others in the last 25km.
While teammate Philippe Gilbert eventually won the stage, Küng made a tearful exit from the Giro.
“I was in the ambulance and the tears were running down,” Küng said. “As a sportsman, you always want to keep going. I was looking forward to the time trial every day. So it is a shame to finish like this. When they told me what I have, it is even worse because I know I will not be able to ride my bike for a while. It is going to take time for me to come back. But for sure, I will come back.”
Doctors said the promising 21-year-old, who was second to Bradley Wiggins at the time trial stage at the Three Days of De Panne and winner of stage 4 at the Tour de Romandie this season, could be sidelined for 12 to 16 weeks. He will be held for observation for several days in an Italian hospital, and BMC officials reported there appear to be “no neurological problems and the fracture appears to be stable.”
Manuel Belletti (Southeast) and Jaroslaw Marcyz (CCC Sprandi) also did not finish Thursday. Some 184 riders remain in the Giro, but that number will start to shrink going into the final brutal week of racing across the mountains of northern Italy.