OVERALL leader Alberto Contador badly injured his shoulder in a dramatic late crash on the final sprint of the sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia yesterday.
The Spaniard was able to get up and finish the stage but was unable to lift his left arm on the podium to put on the pink jersey, and did not pick up the celebratory bottle of Prosecco – a sharp contrast to the previous day when he sprayed it cheerfully around after claiming the overall lead.
Contador, who is attempting to become the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Giro and the Tour de France in the same year, was taken to hospital by his Tinkoff-Saxo team for tests and X-rays and it was later confirmed that he had dislcoated his left shoulder.
“It’s a serious blow, we have to evaluate his condition,” Tinkoff general manager Stefano Feltrin said immediately after the finish.
Today’s seventh stage is a mainly flat 264-kilometre (164-mile) leg from Grosseto to Fiuggi and there was some optimism among the team that Contador would at least start.
His press officer Jacinto Vidarte said: “He’s hurt himself on the knee and he’s got a bad shoulder as you can see, but he should be OK to continue.”
One potential problem if Contador rides in pain is that, while relatively benign in terms of gradients, today’s stage is the longest of the whole three-week tour.
The crash came in the final 300 metres as Daniele Colli hit the camera lens of a spectator leaning over a barrier and went down, bringing half the peloton down with him. Colli was immediately taken to a hospital and his team later confirmed that he had broken his arm.
Contador and the other riders involved did not lose any time as it happened in the final three kilometres. He maintained a two-second lead over Italian title hopeful Fabio Aru, and a 20-second advantage over third-place Richie Porte.
Andre Greipel won the bunch sprint at the end of the 183-kilometer (114-mile) leg from Montecatini Terme to Castiglione Della Pescaia. The German was perfectly led out by Lotto Souda team-mate Greg Henderson, and he had enough power to beat Matteo Pelucchi by a bike length.
Sacha Modolo was third.
“We [the team] have been working so long together and we are friends, which makes it easier to fight for each other and for the victories,” said Greipel, who finished third in the second stage after opening his sprint too early. “Everyone went for it today and deserved victory.
“The whole team did a great job from kilometre zero, and the last 3K went how we planned it on the bus this morning. Today, I didn’t make the mistake to go too early, and I’m happy we finished it off with victory.”