Nothing stops Grand Tour fans in their tracks quite like the image of one of the race’s dominant favourites sat at the side of a road following a crash.
Wednesday was Remco Evenepoel’s turn to be that ill-fated rider, after he crashed not once, but twice, on a day at the Giro d’Italia that also saw Primož Roglič hit the deck in the finale as well as Mark Cavendish skidding across the finish line on his two cheeks instead of his two wheels. Although Evenepoel got back up and finished the race, the condition he’ll be in on the start line tomorrow remains a mystery at the time of writing.
“We will see. I am in a lot of pain, but ça va,” Evenepoel told Sporza after Stage 5 before he headed off for a medical check.
Belgian media are currently massed in Italy to cover every breath their rainbow-clad golden boy takes, and when they saw him take his first tumble early in the race thanks to a stray dog in the road, many may have thought their rain-soaked adventure was coming to a premature end. It was particularly notable that Evenepoel crashed hard on the side of the road, in contrast to teammate Davide Ballerini’s slip-and-slide move in the same incident. Evenepoel was slow getting up.
“Of course there are abrasions from such a fall, but we can’t say more yet,” Soudal – Quick Step sports director Klaas Lodewyck told Het Laatste Nieuws at the finish. But a few hours later an update from the team’s medical staff indicated that it was the second crash, at around 2.5 km to go, that caused the most damage.
“From the first crash it was quite okay with the dog, it was not too bad,” team doctor Toon Cruyt explained. “But the second crash he has a lot of pain on his right side, he has a big hematoma [swelling] with contraction of his muscles there and problems with his sacrum [located at the base of the lumbar vertebrae] but hopefully with a good massage and osteopathic treatment and a good night of rest it will be better, we will see tomorrow morning.”
“It will take a few days before this hematoma goes away,” he continued. “But we hope the muscle contractions go away faster. We will see tomorrow anyway, he will have a difficult day.”
As for Evenepoel’s main rival Primož Roglič, who also fell in a separate incident at 7 km to go in the finale, he escaped without injury.
“It’s all good, huh,” came the expected response from the Slovenian when asked how he was by Cycling Pro Net.
“It could have ended worse. The guys did a great job getting me back quickly. After that I was very lucky with that second crash [the second Evenepoel fall] because I was hit in the leg by someone who fell, but I’m happy to be here at the finish now.”