Michael Matthews won stage three of the Giro d’Italia which saw Italian rider Domenico Pozzovivo suffer a frightening crash to bring back memories of the accident which killed Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt in the 2011 edition.
AG2R-La Mondiale rider Pozzovivo, seen as one of the contenders in the general classification here, was said to be “conscious and lucid” after being taken away by ambulance.
He received immediate treatment at the roadside, having landed and hit his head before laying motionless on the descent of the Barbagelata.
The 32-year-old, fifth overall in last year’s race, hit the ground head first with about 40 kilometres left in the 136km ride between Rapallo and Sestri Levante.
Pozzovivo was put in an ambulance wearing a neck brace and wrapped in a survival blanket. Weylandt died at the Giro four years ago after falling at high speed during a descent with about 25 kilometres of the third stage remaining.
The injury to the AG2R team leader overshadowed a stage won in a sprint by Australian Matthews, who was already in pink after Sunday’s second stage. The Orica-Greenedge rider comfortably beat Trek Factory’s Fabio Felline and BMC Racing’s Philippe Gilbert across the line.
Matthews leads the general classification by six seconds from team-mate Simon Clarke, with two more Orica riders, Simon Gerrans and Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio, a further four seconds back as the Australian squad continue to dominate the standings after victory in the opening team time trial on Saturday.
Team Sky’s Richie Porte finished in 35th position in the bunch with the same time as the stage winner and remains 37 seconds down on Matthews in 30th place overall.
Porte, Team Sky’s leader in the race, is sleeping in a large American-style motorhome during the Giro instead of the usual team hotel with his team-mates in a novel experiment. Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford believes the benefits of a motorhome could outweigh the tradition of staying in a different hotel every night and the practice could be repeated at the Tour de France if Porte is successful at the Giro.
“Even though we have our own mattresses and pillow, when you change hotel every night, you have to unpack and pack everyday, you go into a hotel without knowing what it’s like,” Brailsford said”.
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