Geraint Thomas and Ineos dealt blow as Pavel Sivakov abandons Giro d'Italia
After days of suffering from the effects of a crash, Pavel Sivakov abandoned the Giro d’Italia on stage 16, leaving Geraint Thomas and Ineos Grenadiers down a key lieutenant in their hunt for the maglia rosa.
Sivakov was involved in a major crash on the rainy terrain of the 11th stage of the race, along with teammate Tao Geoghegan Hart who was forced to abandon the race with a fractured left hip.
Sivakov had been able to remount his bike and finish the stage, but was believed to have sustained injuries which he has carried in the race since.
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However, Sivakov had shown good form over the last few days, supporting Thomas in key mountain stages over the second week of the Giro - conspicuously marshalling the peloton on the mountains of stage 12 immediately after his fall.
Sivakov avoided crashes on a chaotic stage 15 of the race on Sunday, despite a report to that effect on race radio, but suffered a puncture on a descent which he described as frightening on social media. From the outset of stage 16, though, he appeared to be struggling to keep pace with the peloton - riding at the back of the peloton and being caught at the back of an early split in the race.
Ineos has already lost Filippo Ganna and Tao Geoghegan Hart, both of whom would have been likely to offer substantial support to Thomas in his general classification challenge from Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) as the race approaches its critical point in the coming days.
"This race is going to explode at one point, I hope I'm at the right end of it," Thomas said in Bergamo after stage 15, predicting an increase in the tempo of the battle for the general classification, which at times has seemed to hit a stalemate between Thomas, Roglic and Bruno Armirail (Groupama-FDJ).
Ineos’ fortunes have proven better than Soudal-QuickStep, who are now riding with only two remaining team members after being ravaged by COVID-19, which also saw Remco Evenepoel abandon the race while holding the maglia rosa.