Giro d'Italia

GC contender Rodriguez abandons Giro after stage 6 crash

The Spaniard was one of several riders involved in a high-speed pileup late in the stage to Montecassino

CASSINO, Italy (VN) — Pre-race favorite Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is ready head to Rome for the first flight to Spain. A fractured finger, bruised ribs, and the loss of two of his teammates in a crash during Thursday’s Giro d’Italia stage 6 to Montecassino took their toll and he abandoned the race.

“The battle for the general classification is over,” Katusha sport director José Azevedo said. “This is a day to forget. We came here with objective of winning but a big crash, with 40 riders down, ruined it for “Purito.'”

“Purito” Rodríguez — who finished second at the 2012 Giro and third at the 2012 Vuelta a Espana and 2013 Tour de France — saw his chances of winning his first grand tour go up in smoke.

“He has a lot of pain in his ribs, the same ones that he hurt in the Amstel Gold crash,” Azevedo said.

Angel Vicioso fractured his femur in the crash that occurred just over 11km from the finish and just a few kilometers from the base of the final climb. Teammate Giampaolo Caruso appeared to be the worst of the injured, so much so that fellow Sicilian Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) stopped to check on him. Azevedo was unsure of Caruso’s injuries.

The crash also involved GC Michele Scarponi (Astana), Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and Julian Arredondo (Trek Factory Racing). In addition to Rodriguez’s teammates, Janez Brajkovic (Astana) and Davide Villella (Cannondale) abandoned.

Rodriguez made it to the top of the 8.5km climb that features an Abby rebuilt after World War II. He finished 7:43 behind stage winner and overall leader Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge). The time loss, the abandonment of his teammates, and his own injuries were too much for him to continue the race.

The stage ended just south of Rome, where an airport offers an easy trip home to Spain. The 35-year-old could rebound in time for the Tour de France, which he had originally ruled out.

“It’s important to get that grand tour win in my palmarès,” he told VeloNews this morning. “I’ve won big classics, small stage races. I only lack a grand tour and a worlds title. If I can’t get this Giro d’Italia title, maybe I’ll never win a grand tour, who knows.”