REGGIO EMILIA, Italy (VN) — Giro d’Italia pink jersey Tom Dumoulin is already down one rider, so you’d think Sunweb would make sure everyone is on the bus before rolling to the start.
Key helper Simon Geschke posted a photo on Twitter on Thursday morning, sticking out his thumb. The team had left without him for the start of stage 12. He wasn’t kidding.
“Baah, we don’t need him!” joked Dumoulin. “We didn’t even notice he wasn’t on the bus until after driving 10 minutes. We had to go back and pick him up!”
With Geschke safely back inside the team bus, Sunweb made it to the start on time, Thursday morning in Forlí. Dumoulin safely negotiated a relatively uneventful Giro stage.
Herding up to nine riders, and dozens of staffers across Europe during stage races can be a logistical challenge.
Riders have been left behind before, like Christian Vande Velde in the 2008 Giro. After Slipstream won the team time trial, Vande Velde earned the pink jersey. He was so long attending the post-race protocol that the team accidentally left without him. So the American took a taxi back to the team hotel, wearing the maglia rosa.
A more infamous case came during the 2009 Tour de France. Alberto Contador said Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel purposefully left him behind, ahead of the decisive final time trial around Lake Annecy. Contador had to call his brother, who hurried to pick him up in a rental car.
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“I am looking forward to Saturday. These flat stages are boring,” Dumoulin said. “I know they are going to attack me — I know I don’t have to attack. If I have a bad day, I will try to limit my losses. If I have a good day, maybe I can try something. I know the attacks will come.”
They’ll make sure everyone is on the bus ahead of that stage.