“I suppose I took him down. I’m sorry and hope he is OK.”
The “he” in question is Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and while he is OK physically, emotionally he’s probably ticked off. Lopez had a serious opportunity to win Milano-Torino, until Monsieur David Gaudu (Groupama FDJ) swerved right in front of him, causing the Colombian to hit the deck.
Instead of Lopez taking the win, it was Gaudu’s FDJ teammate Thibaut Pinot who continued racing up the climb to the Superga Basilica for a solo victory. Lopez would remount, chase hard and finish second place.
Gaudu’s knockdown almost looked like a scripted move to ensure Pinot would win — not that we’re suggesting that was the plan. It’s always amazing to us how often climber domestiques suddenly run out of gas and swerve wildly to the right or left, endangering other riders.
The young Frenchman seemed a bit mystified by how this all occurred. “I don’t really know what happened. It all happened so quickly that at first I thought I’d crash with Fuglsang rather than Lopez,” said Gaudu. The moment before the crash, Gaudu looked under his left shoulder, seeing Pinot right on his wheel but apparently he didn’t spot Lopez coming up fast on his captain’s right side.
It was also a moment of inattention from Lopez. Just as Gaudu suddenly pulls off, Lopez steals a quick glass behind to see how far back new World Champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) had slipped. In the end, neither rider was paying full attention as their wheels collided and both went down. Or as Gaudu puts it — “we kind of rode into each other.”
Well, that’s one way to describe things. Sure looked like a rookie move by a young 22 year old rider. Lopez was surprisingly understanding when asked about the incident. “In a split second everything changed and I went down. Fortunately, I was able to get up and had the legs to ride and finish on the podium. I’m not hurt. It’s a pity because I saw that Alejandro was suffering and the race could have ended differently.”
Pinot didn’t have to ride Lopez off his wheel because Gaudu took out the Colombian all by himself.