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HORSENS, Denmark (VN) – Roberto Ferrari (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) won’t be the most popular rider on a special charter flight to Italy on Monday night as the Giro d’Italia treks south after three wild days in Denmark.
Ferrari caused of a horrendous finish line crash Monday when he swept out the front wheel of world champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) and nearly knocked maglia rosa Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) out of the race as riders fell like dominos in his wake.
Ferrari’s erratic surge to the right created havoc and sent a dozen riders chattering to the tarmac. After the stage he tried to downplay a growing furor among the peloton.
“I don’t know what happened behind me. I was trying to make my sprint,” Ferrari told Italian journalists at the finish line. “I do not want to cause trouble. I tried to stay on my line, but if I am relegated, I will accept it.”
Relegated he was, from a top-10 in the sprint to 192nd, last among the lead bunch. He was also penalized 25 points and 30 seconds on GC, and fined 200 Swiss franc.
That will seem like light punishment compared to the scorn he will likely receive from his peers in the peloton.
Cavendish suffered one of the worst crashes of his career, landing hard on his left shoulder and hip. With his jersey torn and bleeding, he later angrily carried his bike over his right shoulder and stormed across the line on foot.
The world champion, who complained Sunday about a growing “lack of respect” in the peloton, avoided what likely could have been much worse injuries after Farnese Vini’s Elia Favilli bunny-hopped over him at full sprint.
Cavendish didn’t speak to journalists in Denmark, but he soon filled his Twitter account with venom.
“Is the team of Roberto Ferrari or the UCI going to do the right thing? Other riders, including myself, have been sent home for much less,” he wrote, adding: “Ouch! Crashing at 75kph isn’t nice! Nor is seeing Roberto Ferrari’s maneuver. Should be ashamed to take out pink, red & world.”
Phinney was also caught up in the carnage, crashing hard on the right side, leaving him with a seriously injured ankle and doubts about whether he can continue in the Giro.
The American was so banged up that he was unable to finish the stage and was driven away by ambulance.
UCI rules state that any rider who crashes within the final three kilometers of a stage does not need to finish the race in order to keep his time.
That seemed irrelevant to Phinney, who was getting his ankle wrapped and his knee iced as the ambulance sped him toward a local hospital.
Realizing that his family and teammates had no idea about his condition, he insisted on returning to the finish line to attend the podium ceremony.
Some 15 minutes later, Phinney was dropped off ceremoniously directly in front of the podium by an ambulance with flashing lights. He gingerly stepped onto the podium to rousing cheers from the animated Danish crowd.
“I was in shock there for a little while. I was breathing heavily. I was focused on that my foot and ankle hurt a lot. I put some ice on it and started to feel a little bit better,” Phinney told VeloNews. “I wanted to come back out to show my family watching at home that I am OK. I felt like it was important to come back and do that.”
Ferrari’s Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela tried to minimize the PR damage caused by his erratic sprint. Team boss Gianni Savio insisted there was no ill will in the sprint, but made no suggestion he would remove him from the race.
“He did not try to take out Cavendish,” Savio said. “We are very sorry for what happened. He did not purposely try to cause a crash. He was making his sprint and we accept full responsibility for his errors.”
Giro sprints are always dangerous and it’s the second day in a row with a finish-line crash. The peloton will be nervous about what lies ahead in Italy, where Giro organizers usually have some sort of surprise in the final kilometers.