Crashes, time penalties, and stomach problems: a history of Team Sky’s torrid time at the Giro d’Italia
With Chris Froome struggling at the Giro d'Italia, we look back at a race that has offered nothing but bad luck and disappointment to the British team
2010 – Wiggins takes pink before fading
Team Sky’s Grand Tour debut begins in the best way imaginable with Bradley Wiggins taking pink in the opening time trial, but it’s downhill from there.
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On the very next stage Wiggins is involved in a mass crash in the final 10km, losing 37 seconds and pink in the process, and then lost nearly five minutes on stage seven as heavy rain turned the white roads of Tuscany to mud.
Wiggins eventually finishes in 40th place, nearly two hours behind race winner Ivan Basso, as the team fails to win a stage and Chris Froome is disqualified for holding on to a race motorbike.
2013 – Wiggins’ descending woes
Despite being the defending Tour champion, Bradley Wiggins is given the Giro d’Italia as his main aim for the year and suffers a miserable race.
Early success in the stage two team time trial puts Salvatore Puccio into pink, but this turned out to be the highlight of Sky’s race
Disaster really strikes on a rain-soaked stage seven where Wiggins crashes seems to lose all confidence on the descent, tip-toeing around corners and losing 1-24 to the other GC contenders.
Stage eight’s time trial saw a chance for Wiggins to regain time, which he does, but not as much as he would of liked as a puncture means he finishes second on the stage won by Alex Dowsett, gaining just 11 seconds on Vincenzo Nibali.
The first major summit finish of the race comes on stage 10, where Wiggins suffers breathing problems and loses more time, but the final nail in the coffin comes on stage 12, with Wiggins dropped on a flat stage, finishing three minutes back, and abandoning overnight.
2015 – Porte penalised for puncture assistance
The 2015 Giro d’Italia looked set to be the race where the team exorcised their Giro demons, entering with a strong team backing up team leader Richie Porte.
All went swimmingly for the first week as Porte went in to the first rest day just 22 seconds off the lead of Alberto Contador, before disaster struck on stage 10.
The flat stage to Forlì should have been uneventful, but with five kilometres to go Porte suffered a front wheel puncture, receiving a front wheel from Orica-GreenEdge rider Simon Clarke, and coming home 45 seconds behind the peloton.
But the worst was still to come, as the commissaires decided that Porte had broken the rules by receiving assistance from a rider on another team, and the Australian was docked two minutes.
Three days later Porte crashes on stage 13, injuring his knee and losing another two minutes, before finally calling it a day after coming home in the gruppetto on stage 15, losing more than 27 minutes.
2016 – Landa’s stomach problems
It was a similar story in the 2016 Giro d’Italia, where new signing Mikel Landa performed well throughout the first week, even pulling out a decent ride on the stage nine time trial, limiting his losses to move up to eighth overall, well in contention with the other GC riders.
All looked set for Sky to finally provide a serious challenge for the win in Milan, before disaster struck once again on stage 10.
The 219km stage to Sestola looked tricky on paper, but no one expected Landa to get dropped on the first climb of the day, suffering stomach problems which led to some to cast doubt on the wisdom of Team Sky holding a rest day barbecue the day before.
By the midpoint of the stage Landa had abandoned, with Sebastian Henao eventually finishing as the team’s best placed rider in a distant 17th place.
2017 – Police motorbike crash takes out both leaders
Hedging their bets and hoping to have a back-up option to cover in case of crashes or illness, Sky went into the 2017 Giro d’Italia with two co-leaders in the shape of Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas.
However, they hadn’t counted on a poorly positioned police motorbike on stage nine’s summit finish to Blockhaus, which parked at the side of the road and was hit by a Sunweb rider on the approach to the climb, bringing down Thomas, Landa, and a number of Sky domestiques.
Movistar’s Nairo Quintana won the stage while Thomas lost just over five minutes and Landa nearly 27.
The following time trial stage provided some hope as Thomas finished second to move back within touching distance of the top ten, but, clearly in pain, he lost time on the following two stages, abandoning before stage 13.
In the end Landa was able to rescue the race to some extent as he won the mountains classification and a stage.
2018 – Chris Froome crashes twice and struggles for form
Having already won the Tour de France on four occasions, 2018 was meant to be the year that Chris Froome secured his spot among cycling’s greats not only with a fifth Tour de France victory, but with a Giro d’Italia win as well.
Unfortunately for Froome he was on the deck before the race had even begun as he crashed while previewing the race’s opening time trial in Jerusalem.
Froome also crashed on wet roads on stage eight, but his form appeared to be as much of an issue as his struggles to stay upright as he surprisingly lost time in the opening time trial, before looking out of shape on the first summit finish to Mount Etna and losing more than a minute on stage nine’s summit finish to Gran Sasso d’Italia.
Froome battle on in the race, but will have a tough time bridging the more than two-minute gap to the pink jersey of Simon Yates.