After a crash-marred Stage 5 at the Giro d’Italia, Thursday again provided some tense moments for the big names in the race. This time, it was late-race mechanical difficulties for Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), both of whom had to go into chase mode to make it back up to the pack.
Roglič, who crashed on Wednesday, was the first of the two to be stricken by mechanical woes on Thursday. With some 16 km to go in the stage that started and finished in Naples, Roglič pulled over for a bike change. His team later confirmed that it was a puncture that had waylaid Roglič on the run-in to the line.
As he dismounted and waited for a new bike, his visibly torn kit also suggested that he may have crashed at some other point in the afternoon.
The three-time Vuelta a España winner was back on a bike in relatively short order, and then it was time to chase. With the peloton traveling at a rapid clip in pursuit of breakaway riders Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) and Alessandro De Marchi (Jayco-AlUla), Jumbo-Visma sent reinforcements back to help Roglič work his way back.
With the powerful engines of Rohan Dennis and Thomas Gloag providing assistance, Roglič weaved his way through the convoy and began to close down the gap.
As Roglič was reaching the back of the bunch after staving off a potential disaster, it was Thomas’s turn, as the former Tour de France winner appeared to drop his chain with 12 km to go.
He quickly stopped and fixed the issue, but the peloton had put him in the rearview mirror, forcing him to mount a chase of his own. The Ineos Grenadiers sent help in the form of Filippo Ganna, Salvatore Puccio, and Ben Swift, and the teammates worked together with each other – and the cars – in pursuit of the pack.
After some tense moments off the back inside the last 10 km, Thomas reconnected with the peloton with around 7 km to go. He and Roglič both went on to finish on the same time as the rest of the peloton. In the end, there were no major changes to the general classification standings on a day that saw Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) take his first career Giro stage victory.
One rider who did not finish with the peloton, thus missing out on another sprint opportunity, was Mark Cavendish (Astana-Qazaqstan), who hit the deck for the second straight day.
After sliding across the finish line following a crash in the Stage 5 finale, Cavendish went down on in the first half of Stage 6. According to Astana, he crashed “in the end of the descent from Colle San Pietro hit by a gust of wind.”
The incident ultimately put him out of contention for the fast finish in Naples, with Cavendish crossing the finish line in a large group over 18 minutes down, sporting some visible abrasions but appearing relatively OK. It remains to be seen how two back-to-back days of crashes will affect the 37-year-old Manxman, who counts 16 Giro d’Italia stage victories on his career palmares.