(Reuters) – Italian Fausto Masnada won the sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia as Primoz Roglic lost the overall leader’s pink jersey to UAE Team Emirates rider Valerio Conti on Thursday.
Masnada emerged as the strongest rider in a large breakaway, making his decisive attack on Coppa Casarinelle about 20 kilometres from the finish line.
The Androni Giocattoli–Sidermec rider was joined by compatriot Conti and they rode into the finishing straight of the 238km stage to cap a fine day for the home nation as Conti became the first Italian to wear the pink jersey since Vincenzo Nibali in 2016.
“I was targeting both stage win and the pink jersey but Fausto Masnada is an incredibly strong rider,” Conti said. “I’m very happy with what I got.
“This is my first time leading a stage race. I’m thrilled. I hope we can keep it for a long time but it will be difficult.”
It was Masnada’s first Grand Tour stage win and Italy’s first victory of this year’s Giro.
“I’m delighted. I’ve done it,” Masnada said. “I knew I was in good shape but it’s hard to win at the Giro d’Italia and I’ve done it. I dedicate the win to my uncle, who died just before the Giro d’Italia started.”
Roglic crashed in the opening hour and dropped to 11th in the standings, trailing Conti by five minutes and 24 seconds.
The Slovenian needed treatment to his right buttock and his Jumbo-Visma team were then content to sit in and control the main title contenders, allowing the breakaway to stay out in front on a humid day in central Italy.
Their patient approach ensured Roglic retained a 25-second advantage over Britain’s Simon Yates while Bahrain-Merida’s Nibali was another four seconds back.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ed Osmond)