Pedersen wins Giro d’Italia Stage 6, Leknessund stays in lead after calmer day

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NAPLES, Italy — Mads Pedersen won Stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia after a two-man breakaway was caught with the line in sight.

Andreas Leknessund kept hold of the pink jersey.

Pedersen beat Jonathan Milan and Pascal Ackermann in a bunch sprint at the end of the picturesque 101-mile route that started and finished in Naples.

It looked as though Alessandro De Marchi and Simon Clarke were going to contest the victory after they were in a breakaway that went early in the day, but they were swallowed up less than 300 meters from the end. De Marchi shook his head and they embraced each other as they crossed the line.

“I’m very happy. That’s what we came here for,” Pedersen said. “It was difficult to catch the breakaway riders. We had to use all our teammates early.”

There were two categorized climbs along the stage that went around Mount Vesuvius before going through Sorrento and along the Amalfi coast on a relatively calm day.

That would have come as a relief to the riders after miserable weather the previous day caused several crashes.

Pre-race favorite Remco Evenepoel was in a lot of pain after being involved in two of those incidents but he appeared not to be too affected by that as he finished safely in the peloton to remain 28 seconds behind Leknessund.

Aurélien Paret-Peintre was third overall, 30 seconds behind Leknessund.

The color of the Giro is pink but the streets in and around Naples were festooned with blue in honor of the city’s soccer team after Napoli ended its 33-year wait for the Serie A title last week.

Despite the crashes the previous day, the only rider not to start was Clément Russo after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Giro hits the high mountains for Stage 7 with the edition’s first finish above 2,000 meters. The 135-mile route from Capua ends in a daunting top-category climb on the Gran Sasso d’Italia to Campo Imperatore.

“Today was a really nice day for being in the Maglia Rosa,” Leknessund said. “We also wanted to go for the stage win with Marius Mayrhofer but it didn’t work. I feel ready for the mountain stage tomorrow. I’ll do my best to keep the Maglia Rosa.”

The Giro ends in Rome on May 28.

Thomas sees Giro d’Italia lead cut slightly by Roglič; Buitrago wins Stage 19

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TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO, Italy — Geraint Thomas maintained his bid to become the oldest Giro d’Italia champion although his lead was cut slightly by Primož Roglič during the toughest stage of the race.

Roglič crossed the summit finish of the so-called “Queen Stage” three seconds ahead of Thomas at the end of the race’s final mountain road leg.

There were no flat sections and five tough, classified climbs on the 114-mile route from Longarone to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, which had gradients of up to 18%.

Stage 19 was won by Santiago Buitrago, who finished 51 seconds ahead of Derek Gee and 1 minute, 46 seconds ahead of Magnus Cort and Roglič, who just missed out on bonus seconds.

“I’m really happy with this victory. It was the most difficult moment of a difficult Giro for me personally,” said Buitrago, who rides for Bahrain Victorious. “I wanted to try and raise my arms before the end and coming here at Tre Cime di Lavaredo is amazing.

“This is the recompense for all the work that I’ve done. … There’s a lot of motivation for me and the whole team having seen the fruits of our labors.”

The 37-year-old Thomas, who rides for Ineos Grenadiers, is 26 seconds ahead of Roglič going into what will be a decisive penultimate stage

Third-placed João Almeida lost more time and was 59 seconds behind Thomas.

Roglič changed his bicycle shortly before the start of the penultimate climb and he made his move inside the final kilometer. However, Thomas was able to stick to his wheel and the British cyclist made his own attack in the final 500 meters and looked to have slightly distanced his rival.

But Roglič came back and gained what could be a vital few seconds.

The winner will likely be decided in the mountain time trial that ends in a demanding climb up Monte Lussari, with an elevation of over 3,000 feet and gradients of up to 22%.

“Tomorrow we go full again,” Roglič said. “It’s good. We got a bit of legs back, so tomorrow we go full, eh?

“If I wouldn’t be confident then I don’t start. The best one at the end wins.”

The race ends in a mostly ceremonial finish in Rome, where Thomas could beat the age record held by Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

Thomas celebrates 37th birthday by retaining Giro d’Italia lead; Roglic into 2nd

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VAL DI ZOLDO, Italy — Geraint Thomas celebrated his 37th birthday with another strong ride in the mountains to retain the pink jersey during Stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia.

Thomas crossed immediately behind Primoz Roglic, who moved up from third place to second.

“The legs have been good,” Thomas said. “Need to enjoy these moments.”

Joao Almeida dropped from second to third overall after losing 21 seconds over the 100-mile route from Oderzo to Val di Zoldo, which included two first-category climbs followed by two second-category climbs in the finale – including an uphill finish.

Thomas – the 2018 Tour de France champion – leads Roglic by 29 seconds and Almeida by 39 seconds.

“It’s a pleasant day. I take time on Almeida and didn’t get dropped by Primoz,” Thomas said. “I felt pretty good, always under control but Primoz obviously went hard. It wasn’t easy. … I just want to be consistent until the end.”

Italian champion Filippo Zanna won the stage ahead of fellow breakaway rider Thibaut Pinot in a two-man sprint.

With only two more climbing stages remaining before the mostly ceremonial finish in Rome, Thomas is poised to become the oldest Giro winner in history – beating the record of Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

Chris Horner holds the record for oldest Grand Tour champion, set when he won the Spanish Vuelta in 2013 at 41.

However, Thomas will still be tested over the next two days.

Stage 19 is considered perhaps the race’s toughest, a 114-mile leg from Longarone to Tre Cime Di Lavaredo featuring five major climbs. Then there’s a mountain time trial.