SAN GIOVANNI ROTONDO, Italy — 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 from Primoz Roglic, who was involved in an early crash.
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.
“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.”
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 after a crash slowed down the peloton briefly.
Roglic, who had worn the maglia rosa since winning the opening time trial on Saturday, was involved in the crash but the Slovenian cyclist was not seriously injured. However, he did tear his shorts and had scratches and cuts on his right buttock.
Jose Rojas finished third, 38 seconds behind Masnada.
Roglic and the other major favorites crossed the line more than seven minutes behind Conti and are now more than five minutes behind the UAE Team Emirates cyclist in the overall standings.
Conti is 1 minute, 41 seconds ahead of compatriot Giovanni Carboni and 2:09 ahead of Nans Peters of France.
The 26-year-old 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.”
Friday’s seventh stage is a hilly, 185-kilometer route from Vasto to L’Aquila.
The Giro finishes in Verona on June 2.