TORTONA, Italy (VN) — Team Sky says that it is not jinxed, despite crashes and sickness that have stopped it from adding a Giro d’Italia title to its four Tour de France victories.
Overnight, ahead of stage 13, its star GC rider Geraint Thomas abandoned the race. The Welshman and Spaniard Mikel Landa crashed due to a police motorbike parked on the course Sunday, suffering injuries and lost time. The knee pain was too much for Thomas.
“You have to be very careful because it’s a bit unfair to Rigoberto Urán because he finished second for us [in 2013] and there is only one thing better we could have done, being one step higher the podium,” team boss David Brailsford said.
“Not many teams have had a second place. But I am pretty confident that the laws of probability will work, that something will happen at some point and we will be able to win it.”
Thomas sat 15th when he pulled out. He tried to continue, but lost time in the last few stages and complained of shoulder pain, but above all, knee pain.
Landa sat 48th overall after stage 13 and as he showed Wednesday, he is trying to win a stage in the remaining days. He won two stages in 2015
He also finished third in 2015 with team Astana and signed for Sky that off-season. Sky began the race last year with Landa as captain, but had to readjust midway when the Spaniard went home with stomach pains.
Landa’s abandon last year and recent crashes continue a stormy story for Sky in the Italian grand tour.
In 2014 and 2015, the British super team appointed Richie Porte as its leader. In 2014, Porte could not start due to health problems and in 2015, he pulled out in the third week after a crash and sickness. After winning the 2012 Tour, Bradley Wiggins began as the leader in 2013, but he also crashed, fell sick, and abandoned.
The situation has been quite different for the team in the Tour de France. It won yellow once with Wiggins and three times with Chris Froome. If Sky can dominate the Tour then shouldn’t a Giro d’Italia title come easily?
“I wouldn’t say that,” said Brailsford. “We all know that every race has its own identity. For a single team it’s not easy to have the strength in numbers to win multiple tours with different people. That’s not easy.
“We have been second, though, and we would like to win it. There’s no doubt about that and we will come back next year full of confidence. Full of confidence and determination once again for another go. If you keep knocking at the door, eventually it opens at some point. You just have to persevere and have the resilience.”
Colombian Rigoberto Urán, now with team Cannondale-Drapac, rode with team Sky from 2011 to 2013. He placed seventh and won the youth classification in the 2012 Giro. In 2013, he won a stage and raced to second overall.
Sky has been unlucky so far in the Vuelta a España, too. It finished second and third with Froome and Wiggins in 2011. Froome placed second in 2014. Last year, after Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) rode clear at the start of the Formigal stage, Froome took second again.