Geraint Thomas and Adam Yates crash as Nairo Quintana takes charge of 2017 Giro d’Italia on stage nine
Colombian claims maglia rosa but British duo's GC hopes are obliterated
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) saw their Giro d’Italia GC ambitions crumble after a crash, caused by a police motorbike, as Nairo Quintana won stage nine atop Blockhaus to take the maglia rosa.
Yates, Thomas and Team Sky co-leader Mikel Landa were among the riders to hit the deck when Team Sunweb’s Wilco Kelderman clipped a poorly-placed police moto and crashed into the Team Sky train.
And while the two Brits remounted and set about limiting their losses, up the road Quintana’s stinging attacks proved too much for his remaining GC rivals as the Colombian soloed to victory to take the race lead.
Yates, who started the day in third place, lost 4’39”, while Thomas finished 5’08” down; Landa was almost 27 minutes back, while Kelderman was forced to abandon as a result of the crash.
As a result, Quintana now leads Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) by 28 seconds overall, while Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) is a further two seconds back.
Despite the race’s second summit finish awaiting, there had been no shortage of riders looking to get into the day’s break, with Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) among those in the nine-man move.
Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) was part of a three-man counter-attack which followed but, when they initially struggled to get across, the American team turned the heat on in the peloton.
Rolland eventually bridged across, but Cannondale-Drapac’s efforts in the bunch meant the gap to the breakaway was never significant.
Movistar took over the pace-setting, and the advantage was down to just two minutes with 68km still to ride.
Bahrain-Merida and Sky also joined Movistar on the front of the bunch, and the breakaway’s 30-second advantage at the foot of the final climb was soon wiped out.
Rolland, Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto-SOudal) and Jan Tratnik (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) provided some resistance, but it was ultimately futile.
Movistar’s pace-setting put several riders in trouble, but it was the crash, as Kelderman clipped the police bike and fell, that caused chaos.
Thomas took some time to get riding again, but once he did he seemed in much better shape than Landa, as their team-mates rallied around the Welshman.
Yates too was back riding, but Movistar did not let-up with their pace and as the climb ramped up into a double-digit gradient the front group was obliterated further.
Maglia rosa Bob Jungels (QuickStep Floors) was among those dropped as Quintana looked to press home his team’s numerical advantage.
He burst out of the wheels with less than 7km still to climb, and only Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Pinot could follow the move.
The Colombian continued to set an erratic pace, testing his rivals with a number of accelerations, and he finally got clear on one of the steeper sections of the climb.
Neither Pinot nor Nibali could follow, though the Frenchman did launch a stinging counter-attack of his own as the defending champion struggled to stay with his rivals.
Geraint Thomas lost more than five minutes as a result of the crash (pic – Sirotti)
Dumoulin and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) also passed Nibali, but up the road Quintana was not going to be brought back.
His victory ensures he takes the maglia rosa into the second rest day, with Pinot and Dumoulin now his closest rivals overall.
Yates is 16th overall, at 4’49”, while Thomas is 17th, a further 25 seconds down.
The former does at least still have the white jersey to contest, however – Davide Formolo (Cannondale-Drapac) finished just inside the top ten to take over the jersey on Blockhaus, and Yates is 2’04” down in the fourth place in the youth classification.
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