Cycling: Huge crash brings halt to Giro d'Italia as three riders forced to withdraw due to injury

Belgian Victor Campenaerts has won the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia at the end of a breakaway, a 147km bumpy ride from Grado, as Colombian Egan Bernal retained the overall leader's Maglia Rosa.

But the stage came under a cloud of uncertainty, as a crash inside the opening three kilometres brought the riders to a standstill for 15 minutes, with riders forced to withdraw to receive medical attention.

Sixth-placed Emanuel Buchmann's hopes ended in the mass pile-up that forced organisers to neutralise the race. 

Portugal's Ruben Guerreiro withdrew later, unable to cope with the pace of the peloton.

Campenaerts outsprinted breakaway companion Oscar Riesebeek of the Netherlands, after the duo had pulled clear late in the stage, with Bernal keeping the lead with a 93-second advantage over Briton Simon Yates.

After a body-punishing 14th stage to the Monte Zoncolan, the peloton let the 15-man breakaway loose on what appeared to be a recovery ride for most of the overall contenders, after the crash-hit start.

Kiwi George Bennett improved to 16th on the general classification, 11 minutes behind Bernal.

Tuesday's (NZ time) 16th stage is a 212km mountain trek from Sacile to Cortina d'Ampezzo.