Mark Cavendish suffered a nasty crash and cheek injury in the opening time trial of the Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday.
The Dimension Data rider cut his face, which swelled up immediately, and had abrasions on his right arm and leg after the incident involving a pot hole in Lido di Camaiore.
“It was very likely a pothole that hit his back wheel,” said Dimension Data director Rolf Aldag. “There’s a lot of holes in the riding line, he probably hit one of those and at 60kph, it never ends really good.
“On the TT bike, you’re down low with the load on the front, so if you go down, you go on your head so of course that’s not too cool.
The race was the Briton’s first since he suffered concussion in the neutral zone in the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour, but the bashed up Brit finished outside the time limit and will no continue the race.