Dan Martin’s Giro d'Italia hopes were dashed on the opening stage in Belfast as the Garmin-Sharp rider lost control on a drain cover in wet conditions during the team time trial, barely two weeks after a final-corner crash cost him victory in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Martin and team-mate Koldo Fernandez broke their collarbones, ending their races, while 2012 Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal is already more than three minutes off the pace after the five riders caught in the crash were left reeling from its impact.
Although their plans for the race lie in ruins, Garmin-Sharp director sportif Charly Wegelius promised the team would fight on.
"It's heartbreak for Dan in particular, we all know how much this meant to him, but that gives us motivation," he said.
"We'll keep fighting forward. These guys are not just team-mates, they are good friends and we'll all use this as motivation for the next three weeks to shake up the race and create opportunities for ourselves.
"For the team to wait for Dan, for the whole team and the injured who were able to do so - to pick themselves up and press on - shows true courage and character and that's what we will continue to do here."
Martin's crash was the most dramatic illustration of the huge role the weather played as the first Grand Tour of the season started under damp skies.
Saturday's stage travels up to the north Antrim coast, passing the Giants Causeway along the scenic coast road, before finishing in Belfast.