Geraint Thomas out of Giro d’Italia contention and Simon Yates on brink as Brits suffer on Mount Etna
British hopes of a Giro d’Italia winner were dashed on stage three as Geraint Thomas fell out of contention and Simon Yates gave up any realistic chance of victory.
Thomas, who won the Tour de France in 2018 but chose to focus on the Giro instead this year, crashed in the neutral zone before the stage had even started and was then dropped before the final climb, eventually crossing the line more than 12 minutes down on the day’s winner Jonathan Caicedo.
Meanwhile Yates, who claimed the Vuelta Espana in 2018, finished 4:22 behind Caicedo and is now 3:46 behind new race leader Joao Almeida.
Portugal’s Almeida, who took the pink jersey from Thomas’ teammate Filippo Ganna, now has an overall advantage of less than one second to Caicedo.
Spain’s Pello Bilbao is 37 seconds back in third, Wilco Kelderman is fourth, and four-time Grand Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali is still within a minute of Almeida in sixth.
"Today was just trying to hold as much as I could. I knew I had good legs since the beginning - I was feeling good," Almeida said.
"In the end it was just a suffer-fest until the finish. I knew (I could take the maglia rosa). In the final 3km I was feeling good. I would never expect to be in this position and I'm really happy with this.
"I hope tomorrow morning I will feel this. It will be a really hard task, of course we will do everything we can. We also have strong teammates so I think we can make a good Giro."
It is not yet known the extent of the injuries Thomas sustained in the crash before the official start of the stage, but there were reports from the motorbikes on the course that he crashed again later on in the day, although no evidence of this has surfaced.
The disappointment for Thomas’ Team Ineos Grenadiers comes just one month after 2019 Tour de France champion Egan Bernal abandoned the 2020 edition of the race.
If Chris Froome does not win the Vuelta Espana next month, this will be the first year since 2014 that Ineos (formerly Team Sky) have failed to win a Grand Tour.