San Giovanni Rotondo - Primoz Roglic suffered an embarrassing crash in Thursday's sixth Giro d'Italia stage, but finished comfortably in the pack on a day when his Jumbo Visma team were happy to take it easy.
While he surrendered the pink jersey to Valerio Conti, that was in keeping with team plans. The sight of Roglic riding along one red cheek showing through his ripped shorts was not.
"They crashed in front of me and I couldn't avoid the crash," Roglic told his team website. "That is also part of cycling. Luckily for me, I only have some abrasions and it all is not too bad."
Other leading riders were caught up in the crash after 34km of the 238km stage from Cassino to San Giovanni Rotondo.
Pole Rafal Majka of Bora-Hansgrohe, Spaniard Mikel Landa of Movistar, Russian Ilnur Zakarin of Katusha and Briton Simon Yates of Mitchelton-Scott all went down, but Roglic was left with the most conspicuous damage.
The Slovenian landed on his backside, ripped his shorts and suffered a visible case of road rash. He was patched up, standing in the saddle while leaning on the medical car.
"Luckily he didn't really get worse," said Antwan Tolhoek one of Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team-mates.
Roglic slipped from first to 11th in the general classification, 5:24 behind Conti of Italy. All 10 riders ahead of Roglic were part of a 13-man breakaway. None of them have records that suggest they can sustain a challenge for the overall classification.
"The breakaway was very strong today," Roglic said.
"We controlled the stage as a team, but we also did not want to put too much energy in chasing down the breakaway.
"I don't see losing the pink jersey as a disadvantage. It provides the team and me with some rest and less stress. The Giro is still long and the decisive stages are all yet to come."
Results and standings after Wednesday's sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 238.0km ride from Cassino to San Giovanni Rotondo on Thursday:
1. Fausto Masnada (ITA/AND) 5hr 45min 01sec, 2. Valerio Conti (ITA/UAE) at 5sec, 3. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) 38, 4. Ruben Plaza (ESP/ICA) 38, 5. Giovanni Carboni (ITA/BAR) 43, 6. Pieter Serry (BEL/DEC) 54, 7. Valentin Madouas (FRA/FDJ) 54, 8. Nans Peters (FRA/ALM) 57, 9. Audrey Amador (CRC/MOV) 57, 10. Amaro Antunes (POR/CCC) 57.
17. Primoz Roglic (SLO/JUM) 7:19, 18. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) s.t. 23. Bob Jungels (LUX/DEC) s.t. 43. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR/INE) s.t. 49. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH) s.t. 59. Mikel Landa (ESP/MOV) s.t.
1. Valerio Conti (ITA/UAE Emirates) 25hr 22mins 0sec, 2. Giovanni Carboni (ITA/BAR) at 1:41, 3. Nans Peters (FRA/ALM) 2:09, 4. Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) 2:12, 5. Valentin Madouas (FRA/FDJ) 2:19, 6. Amaro Antunes (POR/CCC) 2:45, 7. Fausto Masnada (ITA/AND) 3:14, 8. Pieter Serry (BEL/DEC) 3:25, 9. Audrey Amador (CRC/MOV) 3:27, 10. Sam Oomen (NED/SUN) 4:57, 11. Primoz Roglic (SLO/JUM) 5:24, 12. Nicola Conci (ITA/TRE) 5:49, 13. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) 5:59, 14. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/BAH) 6:03, 15. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL/AST) 6:08.
20. Bob Jungels (LUX/DEC) 6:26, 32. Mikel Landa (ESP/MOV) 7:13, 38. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBR/INE) 7:43.