Vuelta a España director Javier Guillén has apologised for the crash suffered by Remco Evenepoel immediately after he crossed the finish line at the end of stage 3 atop Arinsal.
Evenepoel sprinted to victory and into the overall lead in Andorra on Monday, but he sustained a cut to his brow when he crashed into a local journalist in the finish area.
Although Evenepoel could make light of that injury in his post-stage press conference – “It’s only some skin and meat gone for my head, but that’s good because it’s less weight for the uphills” – the defending champion expressed annoyance at the incident, particularly given the safety issues he had already highlighted in the previous two days.
“Again, there were some safety questions,” Evenepoel said. “It was only 50 metres after the finish line, and it’s the third day in a row and it’s breaking my balls a bit now.”
Speaking ahead of stage 4 to Tarragona, Guillen apologised for the incident, though he described it as a “small mishap.”
“We regret what happened at the finish line and we apologize. We will analyse it,” Guillén told Marca. “Everything went well. We had a small mishap just after crossing the finish line with Evenepoel. We will analyse what happened. Maybe we could have done a better job. Organisational issues can’t be overlooked.”
The Vuelta’s opening weekend in Barcelona was beset by problems, with the opening team time trial on Saturday evening playing out in darkness amid a thunderstorm, and without street lighting. On stage 2, meanwhile, the conditions meant that the general classification was neutralised with 9km remaining.
“We depend on weather conditions, and we had to deal with the rain in Barcelona after three months when everything was very dry,” Guillén said. “We had to deal with the rain, and then the following day there was more rain. We had to manage it with the riders, but the stages are being completed even if we would all have liked a better start.”
Evenepoel reported for duty in the red jersey at the start of stage 4, where he again made light of his injury.
“I looked at the images again and from above it is clear that the distance after the finish was too short yesterday. The organisation has apologized for it, I think they realise they made a mistake,” Evenepoel said.
“The day is over, shit happens. Today is a new day, I only look forward from now on. There are worse things in life than a hole in the head, so all in all, I was…