Frosinone, Italy: Within minutes of crashing into Matt Goss with 350m to go in ninth stage of the Giro d'Italia, Italian Filippo Pozzato pointed his finger at the Australian for the incident, but apologised to those who fell behind him for his own role in it.
Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) was not seriously hurt in the spill on a tricky left-hand corner when he was ideally positioned. But he did not want to comment on it after returning from the podium to receive the red jersey as leader of the points competition before first seeing a video replay of it.
On Twitter he posted: "I saw pippo [Pozzato] going straight and tried to take a wider line to try and avoid him but wasn't to be, that's sprinting I guess.
However, Orica-GreenEDGE sports director Matt White told Fairfax that while he believed Pozzato's act was "not deliberate," he "made a mistake".
Pozzato offered his apologies to those who fell behind him for his role in the crash. However, he still cited Goss for his cornering.
"I was on Goss's wheel with his team-mate [Daryl Impey] ahead. Unfortunately, I was already going through the curve. He braked, I was slightly scared, I went into his rear wheel and we all went flying," Pozzato told Cycling Weekly.
"I want to say sorry. Frankly, he braked. He tried to be sneaky. I tried to hold it until the last minute to take the curve strong and have a good sprint.
"I knew it was an ugly corner, Luca [Scinto] said 300 metres ahead of time to remember that the curve closes down and is bad.
"Ahh, in the end, we went down. I'm sorry and ask for forgiveness for everyone else who crashed.
"I tried to take the curve in the best position possible, behind Goss and his teammate. I don't know if Goss wanted to take the corner wider because his teammate took it hard, or if he wanted to be sneaky, brake and create a gap for his teammate. I went in [to him] at full speed."
Goss and Pozzato were not the only victims though, nor was the Tasmanian the only stage-winning contender to be ruled out of the sprint finish.
British world champion Mark Cavendish (Sky), who was several length behind Goss at the time, also went down on the same corner.
But Cavendish could not avoid his fall when Belgian Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Pole Tomasc Marczynski (Vacansoleil), and Argentina's Juan Hose Haedo (Saxo Bank) and Luca Haedo Sebastian Haedo (Saxo Bank) went down before and around him.
Cavendish also declined to comment on his misfortune after he finished the stage. But he later posted on Twitter: "Well, another sprint chance gone due to a crash in last 400m. Got to the point of just shrugging my shoulders now. @TeamSky were great today"
For Cavendish, who has so far won two stages in this year's Giro that finishes in Milan on May 27, it was his second crash in a bunch sprint in the race - the first being on stage three at Horsens in Denmark which Goss won.
In the mayhem, the stage still finished in a string out bunch sprint that saw Spaniard Francis Ventoso (Movistar) take out the day's honours by beating the Italian pair of Fabio Felline (Anroni Giocattoli-Venezuela) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Radioshack-Nissan) who were second and third.
Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Barracuda), who was seventh on the stage, still leads overall with a nine-second advantage on Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and 15 seconds on Italian Paolo Tiralongo (Astana).
White was naturally disappointed, especially as his team had ridden superbly in the lead-up kilometres to position Goss well for a crack at the stage win.
"It was one there for the taking today. That's sprinting. 'Gossy' got taken from behind. You can do nothing about that," White said.
Asked to elaborate on what he thought happened, White said: "The boys are exercising a process that is working towards achieving the ultimate goal. And that's winning bike races. We had a plan - without going into the plan - and I am happy with how the guys rode. We cant control what happens behind us and Gossy got hit from behind. At the end of the day, Pozzato made a mistake and hit Gossy. I am sure it wasn't deliberate. It's sprinting.
Rupert Guinness is covering the Giro d'Italia courtesy of Eurosport. All stages will be covered live by Eurosport. Tuesday's stage 10 live coverage on Eurosport (Foxtel Ch 511) starts at 10.45pm (AEST) Check programs.
The Giro d'Italia (May 5-27)
Tuesday: Stage 10 - Civitavecchia - Assisi, 186km
Type of stage: Medium mountain
Main difficulty: Last 4km including the 'Damiano Wall' at 1.5km and 15 per cent, and 1km climb to finish in old town
How to watch: TV - Live on Eurosport (Ch 511), Tuesday from 10.45pm (AEST). Check schedule.