BC-CYC--Giro d’Italia,1st Ld-Writethru
SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, Italy (AP) — Fausto Masnada of Italy claimed his first victory in a Grand Tour by winning the sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday, while compatriot Valerio Conti seized the overall lead.
The Italian duo were in a two-man breakaway for nearly 30 kilometers and Conti then allowed Masnada to grab the stage win without contesting the sprint, knowing he would take over the leader’s pink jersey.
The two had pulled away from an original 12-man breakaway which went early on the 238-kilometer (148-mile) route from Cassino to San Giovanni Rotondo.
“It’s a lot of joy. I’m really happy. I knew I was on form but winning a stage is really difficult and I did it,” said Masnada, who rides for Androni. “I want to dedicate this win to my uncle who died just before I left for the Giro. I managed to see him and I promised him I would get a stage win for him and I did.”
Jose Rojas finished third, 38 seconds behind Masnada.
Conti grabbed the lead from Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic, who had worn the pink jersey since winning the opening time trial on Saturday.
The UAE Team Emirates cyclist is 1 minute, 41 seconds ahead of compatriot Giovanni Carboni and 2:09 ahead of Nans Peters of France.
Conti will be the first Italian to wear the maglia rosa since Vincenzo Nibali in 2016 — the year he went on to claim his second Giro title.
“I was targeting both stage win and maglia rosa but Fausto Masnada is an incredibly strong rider,” Conti said. “I’m very happy with what I got. For an Italian rider, it’s fantastic. This is my first time leading a stage race. I’m thrilled.”
Roglic and the other major favorites crossed the line more than seven minutes behind Conti and are now more than five minutes behind the 26-year-old in the overall standings.
Friday’s sixth stage is a hilly, 185-kilometer route from Vasto to L’Aquila.
The Giro finishes in Verona on June 2.
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