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Giro d'Italia

Contador OK, but ‘never safe’ from danger in Giro sprints

Alberto Contador and the Tinkoff-Saxo team are hopeful that with a bit of care, his dislocated shoulder will not keep him from the race

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CASTIGLIONE DELLA PESCAIA, Italy (VN) — Overall race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) will continue in the Giro d’Italia after a crash in the finish of stage 6 Thursday, but he — and the other GC favorites — cannot escape the dangers of a sprint finish.

Contador, who is aiming for a rare double in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 2015, fell in the closing kilometer of the stage to Castiglione della Pescaia after other cyclists crashed ahead.

Italian Daniele Colli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) hit a fan, fell first, and broke his left arm. Contador escaped fractures, but dislocated his left shoulder and nearly derailed his Giro ride. He hurt bad enough that he was unable to put on the pink jersey in the podium ceremony afterward.

“I haven’t broken anything, but I have suffered a dislocation of the left shoulder,” Contador said in a press release.

“The doctors have recommended that I immobilize my left arm during the evening and night, while I try to move it a bit with the help of my other arm to promote the movement of the shoulder.

“I will try to start tomorrow on stage 7. I will try to continue until the very last moment. I’m optimistic about the start tomorrow, but we have to wait until right before the start to see what happens and how serious the effect of the crash is.”

“You’re never safe in a finish like that,” 2012 Giro winner, Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) told VeloNews.

“You need experience, that’s it. You have to read what’s going on in the race. We have directors talking us all the way to the line. You just have to hope for the best, there’s no real safe zone in the peloton, unless you are in the very first position!

“I saw what happened to the Nippo rider; it was scary. That’s why they say, ‘Be up front and stay out of trouble,’ but there’s no safe spot in the peloton. You are just hopeful that nothing happens.”

Tinkoff rode at the front to protect Contador, and then Sky took over for overall rival, Australian Richie Porte (Sky). Sky’s move also set up its sprinter, Italian Elia Viviani (Sky). Viviani won stage 2 in Genoa, which was also marred by a spectator-caused crash.

The GC leaders must hold their spot all the way to the finish line to avoid losing time, even if it is a sprint finish for the big, powerful types like Thursday’s winner, German André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), who is nick-named ‘Gorilla.’

The only exception is if there is a crash in the final three kilometers. Then, the riders who were held up or gapped may take the same time as the group ahead.

“You just need a big dose of luck,” two-time Giro winner, Italian Ivan Basso (Tinkoff-Saxo) said.

“When you are GC rider, you just hope luck is on you’re side when you’re trying to get to the line.”

Basso and Contador’s other teammates guided Contador in pink to the finish, but could do nothing to stop the chain reaction of crashes down the finish straight along the hot Tuscan coast.