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Italians on top at Giro as Masnada wins stage six and Conti claims overall lead

Italians on top at Giro as Masnada wins stage six and Conti claims overall lead
By PA Sport

16/05/2019 at 15:19Updated 16/05/2019 at 17:23

Masnada gave the home fans something to celebrate after a frustrating few days.

UAE Team Emirates’ Valerio Conti took over the leader’s pink jersey as Fausto Masnada triumphed from the breakaway and stage six of the Giro d’Italia ended with a completely new top 10 in the general classification.

After an opening few days marked with frustration for many home fans, they could celebrate on Thursday as Masnada took his first Grand Tour stage win for the Italian Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec team, while compatriot Conti was close on his wheel to take the race lead from Primoz Roglic.

Roglic was part of a peloton which crossed the line more than seven minutes back but though his shorts were ripped from an early crash he looked unconcerned by the loss of pink, with the peloton choosing not to chase down the break over the course of the 238km stage from Cassino to San Giovanni Rotondo.

With riders from the 13-man breakaway taking over the top 10, Roglic slid down to 11th in the general classification, five minutes and 24 seconds off pink.

Mitchelton-Scott’s Simon Yates, dropped to 13th, still 35 seconds behind Roglic, with Italian Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida another four seconds back.

It was a long day in the saddle and mostly flat until the category two climb of the Copa Casarinelle late in the day.

The breakaway arrived at the foot of the climb together but when Masnada attacked Conti was quickly on his wheel and the pair went clear, surviving the intervention of a loose dog at the summit.

Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar), Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) and Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani) set off after them but could not get within 30 seconds as the front two stayed clear.

And so a day which began with more grumblings from the locals about a lack of Italian success so far – particularly after Elia Viviani was relegated from victory on stage three – ended with an Italian winning the stage for an Italian team and an Italian in pink for a team which, while now officially from the Emirates, retains an Italian heart.

The pink jersey will be a particular tonic for Conti’s team, who were rocked on Wednesday when their Croatian rider Kristijan Durasek was one of four provisionally suspended by the sport’s governing body, the UCI, for alleged involvement in an Austrian-German doping ring.

That came after the team had sent home Juan Sebastian Molano from the Giro on Tuesday, with the Colombian having returned “unusual physiological results” in internal testing.

“Fausto Masnada is a very, very strong rider with incredible power so it was not possible to get the victory but I’m very, very happy for the pink jersey,” said the 26-year-old Conti, who is leading a stage race for the first time in his career.

“It’s incredible. I hope we can keep it for a long time but it will be difficult.”

While they could celebrate, Roglic’s Team Jumbo-Visma looked happy to surrender the pink jersey and spare Roglic the daily protocols that come with it, for now at least.

Conti leads by one minute 41 seconds from Carboni, with AG2R La Mondiale’s Nans Peters in third, a further 28 seconds back.