Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Nicolas Roche's Giro d'Italia diary: I'm lucky to have avoided injury in crash

First home: Michael Matthews wins the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia
First home: Michael Matthews wins the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia

Having set my alarm for 6.45am yesterday morning, I woke up a bit earlier than expected when the fire alarm went off in the hotel at 6.20am. There's nothing like all of the lights coming on and the sound of alarm bells to make you sit up in bed and take notice.

When we got to the start yesterday morning, we were greeted with the news that a landslide on the early part of the course meant we would have to take a detour and that the longest stage of this year's Giro would now be increased to a whopping 160 miles.

Although we had nice weather for most of yesterday's stage, the rain started to come down again with about 30km to go, just as things began to hot up at the front.

With the stage ending on the 8km second-category climb to Montecassino, a lot of teams began to merge at the front in an effort to get their team leaders into a good position.

When we caught the breakaway, the BMC team of second-placed Cadel Evans really upped the pace. A couple of kilometres before the bottom of the climb, however, just heading into a big roundabout, there was a massive crash. We must have been doing 60kph and the whole thing happened so fast I didn't even have time to think about touching my brakes.

I don't know who hit the deck first because I couldn't see much with the spray.

Soon, I was sliding along the ground on my side and heading for the kerb of the roundabout, with my bike following in close proximity.

Luckily, just before I came into contact with the kerb, I bounced and rolled over it, coming to a halt on the grass.

My team-mates Rafal Majka and Pawel Poljanski had crashed too.

I stood up and pulled my bike out of the melee as my young team-mate Jay McCarthy pushed Rafal off, having given him his spare bike.

My shorts were ripped and there was blood streaming down my left leg. Jay and Ivan Rovny stayed with me and, when I remounted, we rode the last 9km.

I crossed the line 15 minutes down on the stage winner and overall leader Michael Matthews.

When I look back to what happened my cousin Dan in Belfast, I know I could have come off a lot worse – there's nothing broken and I will be able to race again today.

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