FRASCATI, Italy (VN) — Chad Haga and the Sunweb team are switching to a stage-win focus after their leader Tom Dumoulin quit the race.

Dumoulin crashed hard in the final of stage 4 and arrived four minutes behind with blood dripping from his left knee. X-rays cleared him of fractures, but he climbed off early on a wet stage 5.

“We are hopeful we can still make something of this Giro; the spirits are definitely dampened, pardon the play on words,” Haga said ahead of stage 5.

Dumoulin took the start, but pulled out during the transfer to kilometer zero.

“Tom’s going to give it a try and at the very least we are going to keep racing,” said Haga. “The Giro’s far from over and we can still do something.”

Their plan now turns to stage hunting. Indeed Louis Vervaeke tried his luck in the heavy rain today with a solo attack. Haga and the others will have their chances too.

“Today the job is just to get through the day safely and try to save some energy. We are shifting to stages and looking for opportunities,” Haga said.

“I’ll try for stages, especially the time trials, but I’m keen for some breakaways.”

Haga fell dramatically into a ditch in the final 10 kilometers of stage 4. Dumoulin, however, came away much worse – the deep cut to his knee caused by a chainring.

“I’m quite alright, I was nearly at a stop when I got knocked into the ditch, so I just have a couple of random bruises,” Haga said. “I have a bruise below my knee on my shin. It’s nothing.”

The 2019 Giro d’Italia has already seen its share of crashes only five days into the race. Riders fell in stage 3 and stage 4 as the group sped into the closing kilometers.

“Everyone knows that the Giro’s sprint finishes are hectic,” Haga said. “There’s always a pinch point that everyone is drag racing to. And it’s a long day and everybody’s ready to get it done. And [they’re] motivated and everybody’s still fresh so early [in the race]. And people make mistakes.”

https://www.velonews.com/2019/05/news/haga-and-sunweb-to-now-focus-on-giro-stage-wins_493850