Australian Rob Power was all set to ride his maiden WorldTour race after travelling from his training base in Spain to replace British teammate Simon Yates after he fell ill late on Friday.
But instead of helping teammate Esteban Chaves make history by becoming the first Colombian winner of the cycling classic, the 21-year-old Power spent the day training in the hills around Bergamo after getting caught up in traffic and hordes of fans when he emerged a little too late from the team bus.
“I tried to get back on (to the race), but the roads had opened up,” Power told the Cycling Weekly magazine. “I tried for about 10 kilometres to get back on!”
Orica sports director Vittorio Algeri said: “He had to chase partly in traffic. He slipped, he let time pass. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“It’s something I’ve had nightmares about, but I’ve never seen it before,” said Orica sports director Neil Stephens, a former pro with the French team Festina.
Despite being a man down, Orica were celebrating at the end of the 241 km race, one of cycling’s five ‘monuments’ along with Milan-SanRemo, Paris-Roubaix, the Tour of Flanders and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
After a thrilling two-up sprint with Italian Diego Rosa, Chaves triumphed to become the first Colombian winner of a cycling monument.
Power added: “This would’ve been my first WorldTour race. It was devastating to miss the start, but to see Chaves win is great.
“It’s a shame. I hope to put it behind me and move forward, to hopefully come back next year.”