One thing we've got to acknowledge though is that Maria Novolodskaya is pretty tenacious, being out there in the counter, and then dumping everybody else off the back to have another solo dart so soon after yesterday's disaster befell her. It was a bit more naïvely optimistic on her part today though, with the punchy climb coming after she'd already been out there for a while and suited to a bit of action from GC-minded riders behind, as opposed to yesterday when all the climbs had been dispensed with and so the GC teams would have been happy to let sprint-minded teams do all the work as with Novolodskaya not a GC threat, they would see no problem in letting her solo in. Some pretty good action on the climb, mind, with all the key protagonists involved. Poor Elisa, always gets worked over with that lack of a sprint weapon. Very interesting ahead of tomorrow's big decisive climb to see that van der Breggen was charged with chasing down Longo Borghini, and while van Vleuten and Uttrup followed very comfortably, Niewiadoma had to grimace a bit, after having come into the race with better form - Anna VDB had a couple of rough days in the punchy stages but seems to have recovered her mojo. Harvey was the highest-placed GC rider dropped, but she has plenty of minutes in hand on Lippert for the maglia bianca. Strictly speaking Cavalli is closer to her for it, but only by 7 seconds and in the last few days Lippert has clearly been more visible and more active than her. However, Harvey and García did a great job of riding tempo to come back to the group after the impetus went out of the heads of state, and clearly she's pretty good at managing her efforts to have survived as well as she did on stage 2. We also learnt that Mavi García descends like you might expect a Spanish climber who didn't turn pro until 30 years old to do...
As Mayo points out, though, the crash was actually before the move onto the paving stones - looks like the typical issue that is precisely why I don't think installing a "3km to go GC line" as was suggested for men's races a while ago in the wake of the Groenewegen/Jakobsen crash would work - it would simply move the rush 3km down the road, as everybody knows what the all important point is and has to compete to be in the right position when it comes. The initial impact looks to have been caused by Marianne Vos touching Liane Lippert's back wheel. It's hard to say whether that is the cause of, or the effect of, Mavi García hitting the brakes as she'd obviously got too close as well. Lippert seems to move a little to her right but her bike isn't stable at that point so that suggests she might have already been touched by somebody else at that point.
Without any helicams it's hard to tell but it's hard to pick out any direct cause before Vos touches Lippert's back wheel, and it certainly seems García is reacting to a situation developing, but perhaps her braking is a natural panic reaction that worsens the situation with the bunch tight together on the left hand side of the road, and Annemiek is riding behind Spratt who is alongside/slightly behind Lippert at the time so are clearly collateral damage. Deignan is moving into the space that Vos is vacating but I can't see much more than Vos seeing the opportunity to get Lippert's wheel as the door has been left open by a less experienced pack rider, and Vos just misjudges the speed and goes in a bit too soon. It doesn't look to me like Deignan squeezes her. FDJ's tweet was absolutely right, Cille was held up but she stayed upright, just about, but it loooks like Annemiek is down on the pavement with her right hand hanging over into the road and we're probably millimetres away from Cille's front wheel breaking Annemiek's other wrist too. On the replay Annemiek's left arm was trapped underneath her body so she had nothing with which to break her fall, so she's probably lucky it's just a wrist and she hasn't hit her head, so while it's terrible that she will have to withdraw from the maglia rosa, so it's going to be a bit like Herrera's Vuelta or Gotti's second Giro for whoever takes it in the end, she could certainly have been a lot more unfortunate. Sucks that in this time compressed calendar, though, a few weeks off the bike will mean missing out on far more than would have been the case in an ordinary year.
However, every injury she's had so far has only made Annemiek stronger. I thought this was already super saiyan form, but if she has further reinventions to come, that could be terrifying.
As for the actual stage, I would have loved to see how Kopecky would have fared against a Vos that remained upright there. Lotte made absolute mincemeat of Lizzie Deignan, and we know Deignan is proven quality and this was a finish that suited the Briton too. Also, for the second day in a row, Niewiadoma picking up 4" on GC rivals on the line - she may have not looked as comfortable on the cat.3 at the end there but she was strong at the line to pick up bonus seconds as well with an uncharacteristically good sprint placement, albeit a sprint of mostly climbers. This actually reminded me in some ways of André Greipel winning that uphill sprint in the Volta ao Algarve ahead of Roelandts and Samu - Kopecky is obviously nothing like as pure a sprinter as Greipel is, but she was clearly the strongest sprinter remaining once she gapped Deignan and for a sprint victory to end up with a clear timegap like that is rare. Also, having said about how Lippert looks like the biggest threat to Harvey's maglia bianca, Cavalli beat the German on the line, but I still maintain given how they looked relative to one another on the climb that Liane is the only serious threat to Harvey holding that jersey to the finish unless she blows up. Muzic was climbing pretty decently in fairness but she might be likely to be pressed into action to protect Cille with Fahlin having had to withdraw.
Of course, no Annemiek really, really changes the complexion of tomorrow. Canyon are now the hunted, with Kasia in the virtual GC lead (I don't know if they'll have her wear the maglia rosa, situations like this are rare) but with only 15" over Anna VDB and 1'15" over Cecilie. Harvey's at 2'33" but realistically the other podium challenger is likely to be ELB at effective 2'44", with an outside shot for Moolman-Pasio at 2'46". Mavi García is close but she was caught up badly in the crash as well; ELB's attacking riding in the last few days because she thought the GC had gone has been really exciting, but now the chance is genuinely there for her to at least podium - the problem is she has to crack one of the three who are currently already there to do so; Cille has outclimbed her comfortably, Kasia has raced really smart and Anna has lain low for a couple of days and looked much better again today. Harvey and Moolman-Pasio were both dropped by the original moves made by ELB today, but tomorrow's climb is a much tougher beast so we shall see if that plays into their hands or eliminates them from contention. And as she's now 10 minutes ahead of Labous and the last roll of the dice for GC relevance for Sunweb, we might also learn just where Lippert's climbing threshold is; this is a bit bigger than the Epynt climb that broke her and cost her the lead in the Tour of Britain last year, but she's also another year stronger and smarter now.
It's a tough break for Annemiek, and she was almost nailed on to win this from where she was in the race and with the MTF of sorts tomorrow to come, and the victory for whoever eventually does wind up victorious is likely to be a bit hollower in feeling than they might have expected and they'll always have to deal with the feeling that it isn't really their Giro. It was going to be an interesting battle to see which 2 of the 3 obvious contenders made up the rest of the podium... it's just that now there's a secondary race to see if Longo Borghini can depose one of the 3 obvious podium competitors too, which probably wouldn't have been contested as aggressively had it only been for 4th.