A spectacular last-kilometre crash in the Giro d'Italia yesterday left Mark Cavendish to finish the stage battered and bleeding. Race leader Taylor Phinney crossed the line in an ambulance.
Cavendish and Phinney were caught in a pile-up after the Italian Roberto Ferrari switched his sprint line violently. Cavendish's front wheel hit Ferrari's back one, making the British world champion hit the deck at speed. He lay inert as riders fanned out to get past him; Phinney crashed into a barrier.
Although Ferrari's team manager, Gianni Savio, apologised to Cavendish in person "in the name of the team and the rider", Ferrari said: "I was doing my sprint, I have nothing to say."
Cavendish later used Twitter to express his displeasure, saying Ferrari "should be ashamed" and asking: "Is the team of Roberto Ferrari or the UCI going to do the right thing? Other riders, including myself, have been sent home for much less."
Team Sky were furious. "I hope the guy who did that is punished," said the sports director, Steve de Jongh, "Cav is OK, but he has lost a lot of skin. It was a really nasty crash. The important thing, though, is that he is OK."
The crash took place on a day when accidents were uppermost in the peloton's mind – it was on stage three of the 2011 Giro that the Belgian Wouter Weylandt was killed. A minute's silence was held at the start line. The race also honoured Jan Trojberg, mayor of Horsens, who died on Sunday of a heart attack.
Asked about Weylandt, Sky's Geraint Thomas said: "It puts things into perspective – at the end of the day this is just a bike race, just a game. He was a lovely guy. It's a sad day, but it'll be good to remember him."