Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) was relegated to the back of the bunch after almost causing a high-speed crash on Stage 6 at the Giro d’Italia – with the Colombian's sprint branded “dangerous” and “terrible” on The Breakaway.
Gaviria was trying to haul himself back into contention when he went shoulder-to-shoulder with Cees Bol (Team DSM) in a bid to steal the back wheel of Bol’s team-mate Alberto Dainese in the closing metres.
With Arnaud Demare (Groupama–FDJ), Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) hugging the left of the finish straight in their respective packs, DSM launched a counter move down the right.
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Gaviria followed and then tried to explode through a gap between Dainese and Bol – a gap that did not exist. Gaviria and Bol collided as the pair lurched towards the barrier but, somehow, they managed to stay upright.
The Colombian immediately sat up and gesticulated angrily but the race commissionaires quickly acknowledged it was Bol and DSM who should feel aggrieved and demoted Gaviria to 152nd in the day’s standings.
“When you look at that situation, I can’t swear on telly, but it’s a panty-filling moment,” admitted Eurosport expert Adam Blythe as he reacted to Gaviria’s unexpected move.
“Those knicks are going straight in the bin!” chimed in Robbie McEwen.
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In Gaviria’s absence, Demare timed his bike throw to perfection to snatch victory away from Ewan and a fading Cavendish.
“It was a dangerous incident. He just made a bad calculation, a wrong decision,” continued McEwen, a 12-time stage winner at the Giro.
“He’ll be kicking himself because he really made a bad decision of where he tried to go.
“Gaviria diving in between them [the two DSM riders] was a complete blooper. It’s at home in the bloopers reel, it was a terrible decision.”
The incident came the day after the Colombian was caught muttering “che bici di merda” – which translates as “what a s*** bike” – after he finished second behind Demare on Stage 5.
“That was a heart in mouth and ‘something’ in pants moment for Gaviria,” said Dan Lloyd on Thursday’s near-miss.
“You could see how frustrated he was at not being able to finish the job off. Yesterday it was a mechanical problem that potentially stopped him winning the stage.
“Today he’s just a bit desperate. He tries to push Cees Bol off the wheel to make his way through.
“In the end, none of them can sprint and they are all going to very angry with each other.
“It’s incredible doing that sort of stuff at 70kmh that they didn’t come down. Absolutely remarkable that none of those three hit the deck in that situation.”
Gaviria last won a Grand Tour stage at the 2019 Giro and boasts two stage wins at the Tour de France.
“We were saying that when someone’s that angry and that hungry, they’ll push themselves to the limit and make mistakes rather than keeping a cool head,” added Blythe.
“If he had waited just half a second he would have had room on the left to go through but he was just that desperate to fit through that gap.
“That was ultimately his own mistake and he paid the price for it.”
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UAE director Fabio Baldato spoke to Eurosport about the incident immediately after the stage.
“He was boxed [in]. It's hard to really say what happened we need to speak with him," said Baldato.
"The guys were doing the leadout for Dainese and he stopped in the middle of the road. Gaviria was trying to go around at the same time Dainese started. Sadly, that can happen in the sprint.
"They waited until last metre to come out because it was a really fast sprint with slight headwind. They all know that they need to come out at the last metre. And that's what happened. It's a sprint – it's a thing that can be."
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