'In sprinting this move happens 100 times' – Groves defends Giro d'Italia stage 2 elbow
Alpecin-Deceuninck sprinter Kaden Groves has suggested that his defensive elbow that sparked the high-speed crash late on stage 2 of the Giro d'Italia "happens 100 times" in sprint stage run-ins.
Race leader Remco Evenepoel lay the blame for the crash 4km from the line squarely at Groves' door, with claims that the Australian appeared to push Evenepoel's Soudal-QuickStep teammate Davide Ballerini as the peloton squeezed against the barriers on the left of the road.
The action resulted in a chain reaction of touches and panic across the peloton, eventually resulting in a crash that took down Martijn Tusveld (Team DSM), Mark Cavendish (Astana Qazaqstan), and Daan Hoole (Trek-Segafredo), as several GC contenders lost time after getting held up.
Groves admitted to using his elbow to defend his position on his teammate's wheel but insisted to Cyclingnews that he was not the bad guy who caused the crash.
"In sprinting this move happens 100 times and unfortunately yesterday it resulted in a crash," Groves told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 3 in Vasto on Monday morning.
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"For me, it was a defensive move against Ballerini to keep myself off the barrier, but unfortunately, as I shoved him with my elbow, he's lost balance and hit the wheel of Cerny turning across the front of the peloton which then causes a chain reaction of events to have the crash in the back."
The Giro continued on Monday with all those caught in the crash still in the race, even if several riders raced on bandaged up with road rash and abrasions.
Several GC contenders – including Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), Domenico Pozzovivo (Israel-Premier Tech), Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious), Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates), and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) – all lost 19 seconds.
"It was unfortunate, but I hope that everyone is recovering okay and can start today," Groves said, adding that he wasn't surprised about maglia rosa Evenepoel's comments, given his teammate was involved.
Evenepoel said on Sunday that Groves' push "wasn’t a nice manoeuvre. I think that was the cause of the crash, so it’s just a pity that it happened in such a nice and easy stage."
Groves, who finished third on the stage, said that he's hoping for another sprint finish after the hillier run to the end of stage 3.
"He's teammates with Ballerini and that's his direct line of communication of what happened. He's going to say these things as well," Groves said.
"I'm just trying to look past it. I hope everyone is okay, that we can move on to the next stage, and maybe today we can have a sprint."
For his part, Ballerini told Eurosport ahead of stage 3 that it's time to move on and focus on the next day of racing.
"My blood ran cold because I was the first to suffer from the wave in the crash," the Italian said. "I had Remco in my wheel and I saw that he suffered from it a little bit. Luckily, I stayed on my bike. I don't know how I did it, but I made it and thankfully it's done now.
"We stayed safe and we made it to the finish. Yesterday is done so let's focus on today."