Primož Roglič has handed over the pink jersey as Fausto Masnada denied the peloton from a breakaway on stage six of the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
Jumbo-Visma rider Roglič, leader since the stage one time trial, has ceded his advantage to UAE Team Emirates’ Valerio Conti, who finished second at San Giovanni Rotondo to take the maglia rosa.
Italians Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) and Conti made it into a 13-rider breakaway after a long fight early in the day and rode away on the final big climb to fight it out at the line.
Conti settled for second on the stage as Masnada passed him in the final 50 metres to claim the biggest win of his career.
Roglič remains the best placed of the general classification favourites, sitting in 11th place at 5-24 down on Conti.
How it happened
The weather finally relented on stage six after downpours had blighted the opening days of the 2019 Giro d’Italia.
After the sprinters took the charge on stage five, the race from Cassino to San Giovanni Rotondo looked like it could be a chance for the breakaway with the first real climbing test of the Grand Tour falling in the final 30km.
The 238km day opened with a short uncategorised climb 10km into the stage, followed by two bigger ungraded tests that topped out at 54km and 90km.
Then at the 140km mark came a fourth climb, which led into the long flat run to the day’s major challenge – the second category ascent to Coppa Casarinelle which started 33km from the line.
Once the peloton had tackled the 15.2km rise at 4.2 per cent, a short descent followed and then a sharp bump before the final rolling 8km to the finish.
The high chance of the breakaway making it to the line sparked a heated battle to get clear in the opening kilometres.
Frantic racing caused a crash in the early section, with race leader Primož Roglič hitting the deck in the fall.
The Slovenian was bandaged up and re-joined the peloton, spending the day in torn shorts.
After a few escape attempts were reeled in, 13 riders finally broke free 60km into the day.
The best overall placed riders in the break were Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates), Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF) and Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale).
Other notable riders in the move included Masnada, José Joaquín Rojas, Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Pieter Serry (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
After 170km of racing, the break had built up a 5-14 advantage and the peloton looked in no rush to close down the move.
As the escapees moved into the final 50km it became increasingly clear that win would be decided amongst the front group, as the bunch still made no in-roads.
The attacks started on the lower slopes of the final big climb of the day, as Masnada put in a dig to go clear of his companions.
Israel Cycling Academy’s Rubén Plaza, Carboni and Rojas also upped the pace in pursuit of the front duo, forming their own chasing trio.
Conti followed and the two worked together to pull out a 35-second advantage as they crested the climb to Coppa Casarinelle.
The peloton were well out of the frame for the stage win sitting seven minutes back on Conti and Masnada at the top, with seven chasing behind in the remains of the breakaway.
With 5km left to race, Conti and Masnada held onto a 30 second advantage over the chasing trio and were still working together.
It came down to those two riders at the line, with Conti leading into the final straight as he tried to pull out as much of an advantage over Roglič as possible.
With 50m to the line, Masnada finally passed Conti to take the stage victory as Conti was content to take the race lead.
Rojas and Plaza sprinted for the final podium spot behind, with the Movistar rider taking it at the line.
The Giro continues with another opportunity for the breakaway on stage seven, taking in 185km from Vasto to L’Aquila with a second category climb and undulating terrain in the final 50km.
Giro d’Italia 2019 stage six: Cassino to San Giovanni Rotondo (238km)
1. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, in 5-45-01
2. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 5 seconds
3. José Joaquín Rojas (Esp) Movistar, at 38s
4. Rubén Plaza (Esp) Israel Cycling Academy, at same time
5. Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, at 43s
6. Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 54s
7. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at same time
8. Nans Peters (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 57s
9. Andrey Amador (CRC) Movistar
10. Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Team, all at same time
General classification after stage six
1. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, in 25-22-00
2. Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, at 1-41
3. Nans Peters (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 2-09
4. José Joaquín Rojas (Esp) Movistar, at 2-12
5. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 219
6. Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Team, at 2-45
7. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 3-14
8. Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 3-25
9. Andrey Amador (CRC) Movistar, at 3-27
10. Sam Oomen (Ned) Sunweb, at 4-57