Matt Goss won stage three of the Giro d’Italia but the race was marred by a crash near the finish which left Mark Cavendish on the deck and overall leader Taylor Phinney in an ambulance.
With Orica-GreenEDGE’s leadout train dominating the finale, Androni rider Roberto Ferrari deviated heavily from his line, inexplicably shifting right despite having clear road to his left and took out Cavendish’s front wheel, resulting in a mass pile-up which brought the peloton to a shuddering halt.
Phinney was among the riders who crashed and the American was left clutching his right ankle, while Cavendish walked his bike across the line with severe road rash. Ferrari was relegated from 10th to 192nd on the stage for irregular sprinting by the race jury.
Phinney has, however, escaped serious injury and while it initially looked like the 21-year-old’s race may be over, he recovered sufficiently to be awarded the maglia rosa for a third day with his ankle heavily strapped.
“I went down, but I am NOT OUT,” tweeted Phinney. “Couldn’t feel my foot there for a couple minutes…but nothing is broken… I live to fight another day.”
The crash overshadowed a clinical performance from Orica-GreenEDGE, who delivered Goss, second behind Cavendish on stage two, to the line to perfection to secure the Australian’s first victory of 2012 ahead of Juan Jose Haedo (SaxoBank) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda).
Team Sky initially controlled the final kilometres but Cavendish was distanced from Pete Kennaugh and Geraint Thomas on the final 90 degree corner and was forced to launch his sprint from deep in the pack before crashing.
“You can get suspended in football for a 2 footed challenge,or a spear tackle in rugby. Kick Ferrari out Giro for crashing 10guys at 60kph!!!” tweeted Thomas.
The peloton will now transfer to Italy, with a rest day on Tuesday before the race continues with a team time trial on Wednesday.