Giro favorites Thomas and Yates lose big time on first mountain stage

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Just three stages into the 2020 Giro d’Italia, two of the biggest pre-race overall favorites have lost major ground in the overall battle. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) shipped over three and a half minutes to the other major GC contenders on Monday’s stage 3, while Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) lost enough time to drop out of GC contention altogether.

Thomas’s troubles began almost immediately into the stage as he crashed in the neutral zone within minutes of the stage start. In a video taken by a roadside spectator, Thomas appeared to hit a bottle in the road.

The fall left Thomas with a tattered jersey but it was not initially clear that he had suffered any major injuries, as he managed to hang with the peloton for most of the stage, right up until the start of the final climb.

The challenging slopes of Mount Etna, which averages 6.6% over 18.8 kilometers, proved too difficult for an uncomfortable Thomas, who dropped from the peloton almost immediately. Once the 2018 Tour de France winner lost touch, his gap to the pack grew rapidly despite the help of Filippo Ganna, who started the day in the race lead. With 11 kilometers still to go, Thomas was already three minutes behind the peloton and clearly not coming back.

Yates was dropped about halfway up the final climb. His Mitchelton team sent one rider back to ride with him, but the 28-year-old Briton continued to lose ground over the ensuing kilometers, and it became clear before long that he would not be rejoining the other GC hopefuls.

Yates would ultimately arrive 4:24 down on stage winner Jonathan Caicedo, putting him 3:31 behind the lead group of GC riders that included the likes of Vincenzo Nibali and Jakob Fuglsang.

Thomas arrived at the Mount Etna finish line 12:19 down on the day, his GC hopes completely dashed just three days into the race.

João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) found himself in the pink jersey after the ascent to Mount Etna with Caicedo in second on the same time.

After the stage, Thomas’s Ineos team said that his situation would be evaluated overnight to determine whether he would start stage 4.

“Geraint crashed on his left side, so he took a significant blow to the back of his left hip and he has some abrasions on his left arm and leg. After the stage he was taken for x-rays at the finish,” team doctor Phil Riley said.

“The initial x-rays didn’t show anything broken, but we are awaiting confirmation in the morning. We will treat him tonight, continue to monitor him and then review it in the morning again.”

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