Giampaolo Caruso's Giro d'Italia saved by Belfast medics
Italian rider Giampaolo Caruso has a team of Belfast medics to thank for his continued involvement in the Giro d'Italia.
The 33-year-old, who rides for Russian-owned Team Katusha, was the unfortunate victim of a collision during Saturday's second stage of the event and there were fears that his race was over.
Caruso was, however, on the starting line in Armagh on Sunday morning and he will be in the peloton today when the race arrives in Italy, when stage four takes place between Giovinazzo– Bari.
He was only able to get back in the saddle, however, after being forced to undertake a couple of unplanned journeys during the Giro's two-day visit to Northern Ireland.
Caruso was among the pack who finished just three seconds behind stage winner Marcel Kittel on Saturday, despite having to ride through the pain for almost half of the 219km stage from Belfast to the Giant's Causeway and back along the coast road after a crash at a feedzone when another rider came down in front of him.
He was immediately taken to the Kingsbridge Private Hospital, on Belfast's Lisburn Road, to undergo x-rays.
They proved inconclusive, with fears of a fractured scaphoid remaining and with Caruso desperately keen to ride in the third stage from Armagh to Dublin on Sunday, an MRI scan was hastily arranged at Antrim Area Hospital.
That meant a dash up the M2 was required and even after that it was only after a late-night visit from a doctor, that Caruso was given the all-clear to continue in the Giro.
"The fact that I did 100 kilometres with my injured hand gave me hope for the near future," said Caruso, who was able to race with protection around his wrist as the fracture is incomplete.
Mark Regan, Chief Executive of Kingsbridge Private Hospital, who were the Giro's medical partners during its time in Northern Ireland, said: "It has taken months of planning with the RCS and our medical teams have battled all elements at every stage with the riders to ensure they received the best medical care and attention, especially the team that looked after Giampaolo Caruso.
"They went beyond the call of duty to make sure they did everything they could to enable him to race the next day on the third and final stage here."
Caruso went on to complete the 116 miles from Armagh to Dublin in just under four and a half hours.