Geraint Thomas held on to the pink leader's jersey on another wet and wild stage of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday, which claimed multiple victims.
In one bizarre incident, EF Education–EasyPost rider Alberto Bettiol was knocked off his bike after colliding with a race official who had stopped to tend to another stricken rider.
𝗔𝗹𝗯𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗼 𝗕𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗹 𝗵𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝗰𝗸! 💥
Amidst a crash involving Warren Barguil, Michel Ries and Lukas Postlberger, the EF Education–EasyPost rider is knocked off his bike by a race official in the road! 😱#GirodItalia pic.twitter.com/3gBPAnozH7
— Eurosport (@eurosport) May 16, 2023
Severe weather conditions had caused Italian authorities to issue flood and landslide warnings for the entire Emilia-Romagna region, and a number of teams were keen to shorten the stage and remove some of the jeopardy.
In the event, the peloton rode the entire 196km route from Scandiano in Emila-Romagna to Viareggio in Tuscany, with predictable results. Aleksandr Vlasov, one of Bora-Hansgrohe's leaders, abandoned the race after losing contact early on. A number of other riders struggled as the cold temperatures and slippery conditions caused chaos.
The stage was won by Denmark's Magnus Cort (EF Education–EasyPost) who triumphed in a three-up sprint against breakaway companions Alessandro De Marchi of Jayco-AlUla and Derek Gee of Israel–Premier Tech.
It looked at one stage as if the peloton might catch them, closing to within 40 seconds with 15km or so remaining. Mark Cavendish (Astana) looked very interested, having earlier worked hard to get back on. But the conditions made the chase difficult and Cort was a deserving winner.
"Today was such a hard day, one of the hardest stages I've done on a bike," said the 30 year-old.
"At times I was sitting out there in the cold. I was so confused I didn't know what was going on. My radio wasn't working, I think it got some water. I can't remember doing a stage pushing all day like this for four or five hours, it's a very hard day."
Thomas and his Ineos Grenadiers teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart finished safely in the bunch to retain first and third places overall. The Welshman continues holds a slender two-second lead over Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) in the general classification, with Geoghegan Hart a further three seconds back.
"I'm not taking anything for granted in this race, a lot can happen, especially with the weather," Thomas said. "We'll take it day by day."