Wout van Aert, Tom Pidcock brush off pre-classics scare: ‘Shammy saved my ass’

Both walked away without serious injury but the spring classics implications could have been shattering.

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

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Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert brushed off a pre-classics close call Thursday after the rare sight of seeing two of the peloton’s biggest stars crashing together in a late-stage tussle at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Van Aert and Pidcock collided with about 4km to go in the high-speed run toward the final kicker at Tortoreto as the Belgian was moving up in the peloton. Just at that moment, Pidcock was pulling off to let his teammate pull through, the pair clipped each other, and both crashed hard to the ground.

It was a double disappointment for Van Aert, who landed hard on his haunches, because he was targeting the stage win. Jumbo-Visma quickly reset and sent Primož Roglič sprinting to the line for the victory.

The Belgian superstar later posted a message on social message, “Thank God, shammy saved my ass … literally!”

“I’m not in too much pain. I’ve got scratches, but I hope it’s OK”, Van Aert said at the finish.

There were some sleepless nights for sport directors and managers overnight at Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma after two of their biggest stars hit the deck late in the third stage at the Italian weeklong stage race.

Both riders started Friday’s stage, and there were nerves across both teams as the spring monument season kicks off next weekend at Milan-San Remo.

Ineos Grenadiers rider Tao Geoghegan Hart said it was relief that Pidcock, the big winner at Strade Bianche last week, did not appear to be seriously injured.

“Tom was just behind me when he crashed. He had just been pulling to position us into the final climb and he was finishing his job. He was super unlucky. Thankfully he’s managed to roll and tuck his way to not too much damage,” Geoghegan Hart said. “I was pretty worried at the time. We were going really fast, and often you don’t walk away from crashes like that as he has. That’s a relief. Everyone’s in one piece.”

Rare sight to see Pidcock and Van Aert crash together

Van Aert speaks to the media after crashing Thursday. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

It’s an uncommon sight to see either Van Aert or Pidcock, both expert bike handlers, to crash at all, let alone together.

Van Aert landed hard on his backside while Pidcock slid off on his right side. Both were able to shake off the impact, remount their bikes, and roll to the finish.

Van Aert was the more visibly impacted, and he hopped on one leg as the pain seared through his body from the impact. He was quick to speak to Pidcock and offer a handshake.

“We were fighting for position, it’s a kind of incident that can happen,” Van Aert told reporters at the line. “I tried to defend my position with the guys in my team. I think Tom hooked up behind me and tried to crawl through a hole. When I thought I had already passed him, I felt someone behind me hook into my bike and I was dragged to the ground.

“It can happen. The damage seems to be OK,” Van Aert said. “I’m not in too much pain. I’m (scraped up), but that makes sense after that sliding. Other than that, I hope it’s OK.”

Pre-classics scare for both ‘super teams’

Pidcock started Friday’s weather-shortened stage without serious injury, team officials confirmed. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

The implications could have been significant for both teams if there were more serious injuries.

Van Aert is the main anchor at the heavily favored Jumbo-Visma fleet, and he’s targeting a big win at either Tour of Flanders and/or Paris-Roubaix.

After skipping Strade Bianche, Van Aert is using the Tirreno-Adriatico to ramp up his leg speed for the northern monuments, just weeks away. Any significant setback now could derail his spring ambitions.

Pidcock, too, did not seem seriously injured. After his brilliant victory at Strade Bianche, he’ll be targeting select races across Flanders and the Ardennes in the coming weeks.

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