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Enric Mas crashes as riders raise alarm about loose stones on descent at Tirreno-Adriatico

Tadej Pogacar: 'I was pretty happy to be alone on the descent.'

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CARPEGNA, Italy (VN) — Gravel is the cool kid in cycling these days, but no one likes it on a narrow, treacherous descent off an hors categorie climb in the Apennines at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Enric Mas (Movistar) crashed out of contention for a podium spot Saturday at Tirreno-Adriatico when Mas lost his front wheel and slammed hard onto damp roads on the second and final descent off the snow-lined Monte Carpegna.

Movistar officials that despite cuts, bruises and scrapes to his hip, shoulder, elbow and ankle on his left side, he does not to appear to be otherwise seriously injured. Doctors determined there was no need for X-rays or further exams.

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), who climbed into second overall behind stage-winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates), also complained about the road surfaces and loose stones featured on the double descent off the so-called “Pantani climb.”

“They cleaned the road from snow, but there was still a lot of gravel on the road,” Vingegaard said at the line. “I just think they didn’t clean it good enough. Enric Mas crashed. There was so much gravel, it was so dangerous. I don’t think it was good enough.”

Like many parts of Italy, road crews use gravel instead of salt to help traction for vehicles during snowstorms. With snow lining both sides of the climb, but even more so in the treed sections in the shade.

There was no immediate word from Mas, but he finished five minutes back and dipped from ninth to 16th on a day when it was likely he could have climbed onto a possible podium position.

Other riders struggled on the harrowing, narrow descent.

Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) nearly crashed on a corner and did not want to take unnecessary risks on the downhill, a decision that might have cost him a podium spot as he moved into fourth at 11 seconds off third after losing contact with Vingegaard and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious).

Tadej Pogačar: ‘I was pretty happy to be alone on the second downhill’

Pogačar said he attacked in part to be able to ride the descent alone and avoid some of the dangerous loose stones and narrow corners on the steep descent.

“I managed to stay on the bike on the downhill which was really difficult,” Pogačar said. “When we rode it the first time, Bahrain attacked just on the top and drove it full-gas on the descent, and I really didn’t like it.

“I don’t know why, but we were risking crashing and [breaking] bones on the first downhill, so I was pretty happy to be alone on the second downhill.”

Pogačar also raced Saturday with traditional rim brakes, with some wondering if he wanted to use the faster-changing wheels in case he suffered a puncture on the rough road surfaces Saturday.

Pogačar confirmed that he raced with rim brakes for weight reasons, saying his rim brakes weighed 300 grams less than disc brakes, an important detail for what was the first major climb of 2022.

For Vingegaard, he admitted there was nothing he could do when Pogačar lit up the after-burners when the Slovenian made his solo attack.

“I was already on the limit,” Vingegaard said. “I didn’t even think about trying to go with him. He is just incredible today and so much better than everyone else.”