MILAN (AFP) — A cyclist penciled in late for Saturday’s Il Lombardia won’t forget his maiden WorldTour event after getting caught up in traffic and missing the start.
Australian Rob Power was all set to ride his first WorldTour race for Orica – BikeExchange after traveling from his training base in Spain to replace British teammate Simon Yates, who fell ill late on Friday.
But instead of helping teammate Esteban Chaves make history by becoming the first Colombian winner of the cycling monument, the 21-year-old Power spent the day training in the hills around Bergamo after getting caught up in traffic and hordes of fans when he emerged a little too late from the team bus.
“I tried to get back on [to the race], but the roads had opened up,” Power told Cycling Weekly. “I tried for about 10 kilometers to get back on!”
Orica sport director Vittorio Algeri said: “He had to chase partly in traffic. He slipped, he let time pass. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“It’s something I’ve had nightmares about, but I’ve never seen it before,” said Orica sport director Neil Stephens, a former pro with the French team Festina.
Despite being a man down, Orica was still celebrating at the end of the 241-kilometer race, one of cycling’s five monuments along with Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders, and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
After a thrilling two-up sprint with Italian Diego Rosa, Chaves triumphed to become the first Colombian winner of a cycling monument.
Power added: “This would’ve been my first WorldTour race. It was devastating to miss the start, but to see Chaves win is great.
“It’s a shame. I hope to put it behind me and move forward, to hopefully come back next year.”