Cavendish crashes, BMC wins time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico

Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin attends the press conference to present the 53rd edition of the Tirreno - Adriatico cycling race in Lido di Camaiore, Italy, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (Dario Belingheri/ANSA via AP)
From left, Tom Dumoulin, Fabio Aru, Christopher Froome, Vincenzo Nibali and Peter Sagan pose during a press conference to present the 53rd edition of the Tirreno - Adriatico cycling race in Lido di Camaiore, Italy, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (Dario Belingheri/ANSA via AP)

LIDO DI CAMAIORE, Italy — British rider Mark Cavendish crossed the finish line with ripped clothes and blood on his face after crashing during the opening team time trial on Wednesday at the Tirreno-Adriatico cycling race.

He was taken to the hospital after finishing his race. Cavendish, who had only just returned to racing after a concussion following a crash in the opening stage of last month's Abu Dhabi Tour, went down hard after hitting a pothole.

"It was very likely a pothole that hit his back wheel," Dimension Data director Rolf Aldag said. "There's a lot of holes in the riding line, he probably hit one of those and at 60 kph (37 mph), it never ends really good."

Cavendish "went down really, really hard," Aldag said, "and it's up to the doctors to see what that caused and how we go from here."

Italian rider Damiano Caruso took the lead in the race after his BMC team won the team time trial for the third straight year.

The BMC team completed the 21.5-kilometer (13.3-mile) stage in 22 minutes, 19 seconds — four seconds ahead of Mitchelton-Scott, which set up Adam Yates for a good start in the overall battle.

The time is taken from the fifth team rider to cross the line. Just like last year, Caruso was first over the line for BMC and takes the leader's jersey.

Team Sky was third, nine seconds behind BMC. Team Sunweb was favored for the stage but leader Tom Dumoulin had a cold and the team eventually finished fifth, behind Quick-Step Floors.

Dumoulin is among favorites for the overall title, along with Chris Froome in a star-studded race, which also includes Peter Sagan and Vincenzo Nibali.

BMC's Richie Porte was forced to withdraw, however, due to illness.

"Without Richie Porte, it was more difficult for us to win today and it'll be more difficult to win the overall, too," Caruso said. "Now I might be the team's leader for this race. I feel good.

"I don't know if the wind conditions were different for us than Team Sky. I just know we kept pushing hard till the end and it paid off."

Thursday's second stage is a mostly flat, 167-kilometer (103.8-mile) route from Camaiore to Follonica.

The race ends on March 13 with an individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto.

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