UAE Team Emirates’ Valerio Conti remains in the pink jersey after another tough day at the saddle.
Saturday’s stage saw riders tackle a mammoth 239-kilometre route from Tortoreto Lido to Pesaro on the east coast of Italy, and spectators again saw a breakaway go early. They managed to hold off the chasing group until the final 6.5km, where the route started to twist and wind.
It was an anxious finale to the stage, with light rain causing many to question whether it could impact the downhill finish.
The cautious approach to the final hairpins paid off, and a thrilling sprint finish saw Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) cross the line to take the stage win.
Commenting on the stage, Valerio Conti said: “It was a tricky finish today but once again the team did a super job and they kept me out of trouble. Now I will try to relax and rest as much as possible so I can give my best tomorrow in the time trial and honour the pink jersey.”
Stage nine of the Giro d’Italia will see riders tackle their second Individual Time Trial (ITT) across a 34.8 km course, finishing in the province of San Marino.
Stage eight results:
General Classification standings:
UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar picked up the Stage 6 win at the Tour of California, a result that gives him the overall lead in the race.
The victory gives Pogacar his first ever UCI WorldTour stage win.
In the General Classification (GC), the Slovenian is 16 seconds ahead of second place Sergio Higuita (EF Education First) heading into the final stage.
Commenting on the day, Pogacar, who is also the leader of the Youth Classification, said: ”It was amazing. Once again my team did a really good job protecting me all day, leading me onto the final climb and supporting me all the way that they could.
“I just did my best in the last five kilometres. I was starting my sprint behind Higuita and he made mistake on last corner and I went through it much faster than him so was able to come around for the win.
“It feels really good. I hope tomorrow I can hold onto the jersey – for sure it would be the biggest win of my career.”
The final stage of the Tour of California takes the peloton 126 kilometres from Santa Clarita to Pasadena where the sprinters will have a final chance to battle it out for a stage win.
Stage 6 results
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 3:48:49
2 Sergio Higuita (Col) EF Education First s.t.
3 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma +5″
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 30:01:56
2 Sergio Higuita (Col) EF Education First +16″
3 Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-Quick-Step +20″
UAE Team Emirates’ Valerio Conti put in an historic performance on Stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia as he claimed a second placed finish – a result that rockets the Italian to the top of the General Classification (GC) standings and into the pink jersey.
Conti was part of the 12-man breakaway who made their move early on the 238km route from Cassino to San Giovanni Rotondo, and the youngster helped dictate the pace for much of the day, with the breakaway having a solid lead on the peloton for the majority of the race.
As the leading group approached the final climb, riders were looking on in anticipation of who would make the first attempt to pull away; and it came in the form of Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec), but he was quickly caught by UAE man Conti.
The pair were in magnificent form and gained 35 seconds on the chasing group and over seven minutes on the peloton with less than 20km to go.
Conti covered the climb with his Italian compatriot, showing great stamina and mental strength on what was an extremely long day in the saddle. The duo battled on and gained an even larger time advantage on the peloton as they came into the closing kilometre.
With just meters to go, Masnada pulled away to take the stage win, but the plaudits go to Conti who will go into Friday’s Stage 7 wearing the famed Maglia Rosa – the first time ever a UAE Team Emirates rider has worn the leading jersey at a Grand Tour.
The result is also UAE Team Emirates’ fourth podium finish in as many days after Fernando Gaviria and Diego Ulissi picked up top three finishes earlier this week.
Commenting on his historic achievement, Conti said: “It’s a dream come true for me. Before the start we thought it could be possible to get the jersey but it’s never easy to do something like this.
“It certainly didn’t come by chance. We had a goal, and we worked hard for it. I know it won’t be easy but I’ll try to keep the pink jersey for as long as possible. Every stage is hard so we have to be ready and ride as a team to be at our best.”
With Conti at the head of the pack, Stage 7 could be another day for the breakaway; with hilly parcours in the opening half of the race, before riders contest a largely uphill battle in the final 70km.
There will be a short, punchy climb to the finish in what will undoubtedly be a memorable day for UAE Team Emirates at the Giro.