Crash in the Giro brings back bad memories
Michael Matthews won stage three of the Giro d'Italia which saw Italian rider Domenico Pozzovivo suffer a frightening crash to bring back memories of the accident which killed Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt in the 2011 edition.
AG2R-La Mondiale rider Pozzovivo, seen as one of the contenders in the general classification here, was said to be "conscious and lucid" after being taken away by ambulance.
He received immediate treatment at the roadside, having landed and hit his head before laying motionless on the descent of the Barbagelata.
"According to the race doctor, Pozzovivo has been evacuated conscious and lucid," the French team said on their Twitter account.
The 32-year-old, fifth overall in last year's race, hit the ground head first with about 40 kilometres left in the 136km ride between Rapallo and Sestri Levante.
Pozzovivo was put in an ambulance wearing a neck brace and wrapped in a survival blanket.
Weylandt died at the Giro four years ago after falling at high speed during a descent with about 25 kilometres of the third stage remaining.
The injury to the AG2R team leader overshadowed a stage won in a sprint by Australian Matthews, who was already in pink after Sunday's second stage.
The Orica-Greenedge rider comfortably beat Trek Factory's Fabio Felline and BMC Racing's Philippe Gilbert across the line.
Matthews leads the general classification by six seconds from team-mate Simon Clarke, with two more Orica riders, Simon Gerrans and Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio, a further four seconds back as the Australian squad continue to dominate the standings after victory in the opening team time trial on Saturday.
"After the team time trial win, this was another big target for us," Matthews said after the stage. "We re-conned the stage last week so we knew what to expect."