Sungeun Gu Crashes Out of the Giro RosaSun 30 Jun 2013
A hectic sprint in Margherita di Savoia provided the excitement on an otherwise mild first stage of the Giro Rosa. Kirsten Wild (Dutch National Team) proved quickest amongst the sharp elbows and swarms to claim the top step of the stage podium. Compatriot Marianne Vos (Rabobank Women) crossed the line behind Wild but was first at two intermediate sprints. The bonus seconds the defending champion snagged earned her the maglia rosa.
With the plan to put Melissa Hoskins up for the finish, the ORICA-AIS sprint train began to ready itself for the finale inside the last 10km. As Loes Gunnewijk moved her teammates near the front of the bunch, a crash involving around ten riders left Gunnewijk and Gu on the pavement. Gu fell headfirst into the gutter, breaking her helmet in the process. The crash forced her to withdraw from her first Grand Tour.
“She’s obviously disappointed,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “We’ve already had her checked out by the race doctor. She’s got a few grazes on her face from how she landed, and her back is sore. They took her to the finish line via ambulance and gave her a look over to check for little fractures. She’s been cleared for that. The doctors said her back injury is muscular. We didn’t give her the option to continue after her crash. It might sound harsh, but it was the safest outcome.”
Before the pile-up, stage one had unfolded uneventfully. The few attacks were easily neutralised, and the bunch stayed together from start to finish.
“Our goal today was to set up Mel for the sprint, so we were focused on looking after her and making sure she was always in a good position,” said McPartland. “Today was a procession to hand out the jerseys. Things will heat up tomorrow.”
The 151-rider strong bunch barrelled towards the line intact. Shortly after Gunnewijk instructed her team find their way to the head of the pack, a large crash spoilt the plans.
“There was a crash just in front of Loes,” McPartland explained. “She couldn’t avoid going down. Gu was right behind Loes, so she went down too. At least ten girls hit the deck, including our two. Gu was pretty dazed. Loes was able to get up and continue riding, although she obviously lost time today.”
“After looking after Gu, we made our way to the finish,” McPartland continued. “I never saw the race after that. All reports from the girls was that it a typical Giro sprint – crazy, a bit dangerous, a lot of chopping and no control.”
Despite the crash, ORICA-AIS attempted to set up their train for Hoskins. They were swarmed on both sides of the finishing straight.
“We had the right girls at the pointy end,” McPartland noted. “We had Jessie [MacLean], Tiff [Cromwell] and Spratty [Amanda Spratt]. It actually went reasonably well that way. The problem was that they got boxed in on both sides. When Mel opened her sprint, she was already far behind.”
Gracie Elvin was the top finisher for ORICA-AIS on the stage, crossing the line in 21st place. Hoskins was four spots further back in 25th place. Both finished on the same time as Wild.
“Unfortunately we didn’t come through with the goods today,” said McPartland. “Apart from the finish, the stage wasn’t too exciting. Tomorrow should be much more animated. We’re ready for it.”