Bradley Wiggins lost 84 seconds to his closest Giro d’Italia rivals after crashing while Spain’s Benat Intxausti became overall leader as Australian Adam Hansen won stage seven with a 147km breakaway yesterday.
Wiggins, already briefly dropped on a late climb, skidded and fell heavily on a right-hand, rain-soaked bend in the Abruzzi hills about six km from the finish in the coastal town of Pescara, losing contact with the group of overall favourites.
The Briton, despite support from his Colombian team-mates Sergio Henao and Rigobert Uran to try and reduce the gap, crossed the line in 55th place, two minutes and 31 seconds adrift of Hansen and 1:24 behind the main group of leaders.
Wiggins, one of the leading pre-race favourites, dropped from sixth to 23rd overall and is 1:32 behind Intxausti on the eve of a 54.8km time trial where the 2012 Tour de France winner was top favourite and widely expected to take the lead.
“It was very, very slippery and once you fall, it takes you a bit of time to regain your composure,” said Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford, who added that Wiggins was uninjured. “It was a setback but not disastrous I don’t think.
“It could have been a lot worse. There’s a lot of racing still to come and you’ve got to take your good days and your bad days and add it all up at the end and see where you’re at. It’s a long way from being over,” he told reporters.
The Giro finishes in Brescia on 26 May.