Alpecin-Deceuninck have defended Australian sprinter Kaden Groves after Giro d’Italia leader Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) said he thought Groves had sparked a mass crash late in stage 2 on Sunday.
Dozens of riders were held up by the crash, which took place at 3.8 kilometres from the finish in San Salvo, and several fell. All 176 riders in the 2023 Giro peloton were subsequently able to complete the stage.
Sources at Alpecin-Deceuninck told Cyclingnews that, from their point of view, Groves had no intention of causing the crash and that it had been caused by bad luck. While feeling very bad about what happened, the team did not feel Groves did anything wrong. When he made his move, the Australian had apparently been scared of being boxed in and also felt he was at risk of crashing into the barriers, the source added.
Evenepoel, who was able to complete the course safely and in the front group, said he was right next to the crash when it happened, as the road narrowed with just under 4km to go.
“I was actually just next to the cause of the crash, so I think everybody saw there were barriers on the left,” Evenepoel said. “The train of Alpecin came through, and I think it was Kaden Groves pushing [Davide] Ballerini. Ballerini touched the wheel of [Josef] Cerny so he had to make a big manoeuvre to stay on the bike.
“So did I because I was behind Davide, who guided me to the finish and because of this swing to the right, I think they took the impact on the right and they just crashed because there was no space any more.
“So it wasn’t a nice manoeuvre, I think that was the cause of the crash, so it’s just a pity that it happened in such a nice and easy stage.”
As for what happened afterwards, Evenepoel said, “One moment I was just happy to avoid the crash, because you hear the sound of the crash and you look behind and you see nobody any more, it’s quite a shock.
“But then after that you just have to focus because it was still three kilometres to go and you have to stay up [there] on the bike.
“I had discussed it with the guys beforehand that I’d stay up there til three kilometres to go and then I’d drop back because I don’t want to interrupt the sprinters because it’s their time and there is respect between the sprinters and the GC guys,” Evenepoel explained.
“But of course you have to stay upright and focussed because you don’t want to end up on the ground because the stage was so easy, you just want to stay out of…
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