Fausto Masnada (Androni Giacattoli-Sidermec) claimed his first victory in a grand tour by winning the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday, while fellow Italian Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) seized the overall lead.
The Italian duo were in a two-man breakaway for almost 30 kilometres and Conti then allowed Masnada to grab the stage win without contesting the sprint, knowing he would take over the leader's pink jersey off the shoulders of Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).
The two had pulled away from an original 13-man breakaway which went early on the 238km route from Cassino to San Giovanni Rotondo. José Joaquim Rojas (Movistar) finished third on the day, 38sec behind Masnada.
Conti will take a 1min 41sec lead into Friday's stage ahead of another Italian, Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF), who will wear the white jersey as leader in the young rider classification. Meanwhile, Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) kept hold of his lead in the mountains classification.
Roglic completes the stage after giving up lead
Primoz Roglic crosses the line after giving up his maglia rosa to Valerio Conti. The Italian will carry a lead of around 5min 20sec into Friday's seventh stage when, I hope, I'm on computer that works.
Masnada wins stage six!
Fausto Masnada has won stage six at the Giro d'Italia with the Androni Giacattoli-Sidermec rider ending his team's seven-year wait for a victory at their home race. Compatriot Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) became the new leader in the general classification while Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF) is the new leader in the young rider classification. A fourth Italian, Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), kept hold of his top spot in the mountains classification, though lost ground to today's stage winner who climbed to second in that particular competition. Forza Italia!
1.4km to go
Valerio Conti flicks his elbow to let his compatriot know it's time to ride through; Fausto Masnada takes over on the front.
2km to go
No change out on the road.
3km to go
It is seven years since Androni Giacattoli-Sidermec last won a stage at the Giro d'Italia – Mark Cavendish's old mate Roberto Ferrari – but I think they will be cracking open the prosecco tonight.
5km to go
Through-and-off, the leading pair are sharing the work between themselves. Riding, surely, onto the font pages of tomorrow's pink pages of Gazzetta dello Sport.
7km to go: As you were
The third group is continuing to chase, but I cannot see them making any inroads into Rubén Plaza's advantage. Likewise, Plaza is having virtually no impact on the lead of Fausto Masnada and Valerio Conti who are both smiling as the push on. I'd say, they have definitely had a little agreement between themselves.
11km to go
Fausto Masnada and Valerio Conti are still climbing. They have crossed the summit of the categorised climb, but the road is an undulating little number. They are showing no sign of slowing. This could be a very good day for Italian cycling. Stage winner, maglia rosa and leader in the mountains classification. Mamma mia!
13km to go
Big crowds lining the streets, no doubt delighted to see two Italian riders leading the race. Remember, there have been no home-grown riders on the top step of the podium this year. The pair currently lead Rubén Plaza et al by 31sec.
16km to go
Fausto Masnada and Valerio Conti are working well together. The former is doing the lion's share of the work, one imagines the two have an understanding that the Androni Giacattoli-Sidermec rider will take the stage while the WorldTour rider will take the maglia rosa.
18km to go
Fausto Masnada took the points at the summit to climb to second overall in the mountains classification, but for now the Italian and his new friend Valerio Conti will just be thinking about the stage win and, of course, taking the leader's pink jersey off the shoulders of Primoz Roglic.
As it stands: 20km to go
Leading pair: Fausto Masnada and Valerio Conti.
Second group at 35sec: Rubén Plaza, Andrey Amador and Giovanni Carboni.
Third group: Amaro Antunes (CCC Team), Nicola Bagioli (Nippo-Vino Fantini-Faizanè), Nicola Conci (Trek-Segafredo), Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), Sam Oomen (Sunweb), Nans Peters (Ag2r-La Mondiale), José Joaquim Rojas(Movistar) and Pieter Serry (Deceuninck-Quick Step).
Maglia rosa: at 6min 41sec.
22km to go
Fausto Masnada and Valerio Conti have pulled out further time on the maglia rosa. As it stands, the UAE Team Emirates rider will become the new race leader tonight. Rubén Plaza, Andrey Amador and Giovanni Carboni are around 25sec behind the stage leaders. Sam Oomen is on the front of what was the breakaway, but I'm now calling the chasing group.
Plaza in pursuit
The veteran that is Rubén Plaza – the Israel Cycling Academy rider is the second oldest at this year's Giro – has had enough. The Spaniard is in pursuit and has taken Andrey Amador (Movistar) and Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF) with him.
24.2km to go
Sam Oomen is pressing. The Dutchman's injection of pace has seen a slight reduction in Fausto Masnada and Valerio Conti's lead.
24.7km to go
Fausto Masnada and Valerio Conti have put over 30secs into the 11-man break. The maglia rosa is a further 5min back.
Masnada goes again . . .
Fausto Masnada appeared unhappy with the lack of work from compatriot Valerio Conti and put in a repeated dig. A little bit early for that methinks, with 25km remaining the pair probably need to collaborate a little more.
The boy from Bergamo has gone from some distance out. Fausto Masnada (Androni Giacattoli-Sidermec) attacked around 10km from the summit; Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) – who could take the overall lead here today should he finish the stage at least 1min 59sec faster than Primoz Roglic – chased him down. The pair are chatting. Masnada for the stage; Conti for the pink jersey?
Sam Oomen is looking remarkably fresh. Following the departures of team-mates Tom Dumoulin yesterday and Robert Power earlier today, what a boost it would be for Sunweb if the 23-year-old Dutchman were to win this stage today.
30km to go
After Rubén Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy) first led the way up the lower slopes of this climb, Fausto Masnada (Androni Giacattoli-Sidermec) took over on the front. But there's an awful long way to go yet.
32km to go
According to reports, there's a bit of a head-crosswind at the finish line, which also features a slight kicker. If that's the case, then the stage winner will have more than just the field to beat, he will also have to defy the elements.
35km to go
The riders are not too far from the bottom of the only categorised climb of the day. In theory, this is the toughest climb so far from this year's Giro; category and around 20km in length. It will be interesting to see how the breakaway riders cope and also what Jumbo-Visma do, if anything, once the road ramps up.
Could this be the day when the young Italian Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) makes his move? Those who follow these things closely, will recall Masnada got in the break during Milan-Sanremo before he was dropped on the Cipressa. The 25-year-old then won two stages at last month's Tour of the Alps and so in fine nick.
43km to go
Adam Hansen, the veteran Lotto-Sodal rider has just dropped back to his team car for a wheel change. Thus far, it has been a quiet day for the Belgian team whose breakaway specialist / domestique I spoke with not too long ago. Read what he had to say here.
45km to go
Jumbo-Visma are ploughing along at the head of the field, but with this strong wind this extra work will take its toll on the team of the maglia rosa (riding on sixth wheel). This is the perfect scenario for all involved – assuming, that is, the Dutch squad actually want to give up the lead. Either way, it's a great result for Mitchelton-Scott, Bahrain-Meridaet al who are also getting a free ride here today.
The breakaway is at 5min 21sec.
55km to go
Pieter Serry just dropped back to his team car to dispose of his jacket. His team – Deceuninck-Quick Step – by the way, have won an awful lot of WorldTour races this year, including three successive stages at this week's Tour of California but as yet drawn blanks here in Italy, look . . .
60km to go
The wind appears to be blowing left to right as the peloton ploughs on along this straight road. Slight echelon formations in the pack, but no discernible splits. The maglia rosa was just spotted on the radio, but he appeared to be struggling hearing what his directeur sportif was saying, probably a result of that wind. The breakaway is at 5min 24sec.
65km to go
The peloton is speeding along a dead-straight road on what is the second longest stage at this year's Giro. Jumbo-Visma remain on the front of the bunch, followed closely by Simon Yates's posse of Mitchelton-Scott riders. Tucked in behind the Australian WorldTour team are Astana, Bahrain-Meridaet al. Very little to report right now, but the breakaway's lead has dropped ever so slightly to 5min 15sec.
70km to go
Astana, Jumbo-Visma, Bahrain-Merida and Movistar are all up near the front of the peloton keeping their respective leaders safe and out of harm's way. As it stands the breakaway s 5min 12sec up the road.
75km to go
The winds appears to still be blowing. As a result of these conditions, or possibly the slight rise on gradient of the road, the breakaway's lead has dropped to 5min 30sec.
78km to go
Back in the bunch there has been a small split after one or two riders lost their wheels as strong crosswinds did a little bit of damage.
90km to go
After a wet day on Tuesday and a pretty miserable start again today, the roads are relatively dry right now, though a number of riders still have arm warmers or jackets on, the suggestion being that it's not as warm as the peloton will have hoped for.
The breakaway is at 5min 32sec.
By the way, apologies for the slowness of today's live blog. I am on a computer that, I think, is using dial-up. It's ridiculous
100km to go
The breakaway's advantage has grown out to 6min 30sec. Incidentally, the highest placed rider on general classification in this 13-man group is Valerio Conti (UAE-Team Emirates) who started the day in 27th spot, 1min 59sec behind the maglia rosa. Jumbo-Visma are currently riding on the front of the bunch, but whether they are doing this with an eye on the break or simply in order to keep their man Primoz Roglic safe remains to be seen. There's a school of thought that believes the Dutch squad would happily lose the leader's pink jersey today – and in turn take the pressure of the Slovenian.
Breaking away . . . or not
“Obviously, I know what to do to get in the break, whether it’s an uphill start or it has some hard sections it doesn’t matter to me. That said, it isn’t always possible – even for me.”
110km to go
The 13-man breakaway has increased its lead to a shade over six minutes.
Meanwhile, elsewhere . . .
Just in case you missed it, Tejay van Garderen held onto his leader's yellow jersey at the Tour of California overnight following a controversial crash decision by the race jury.
Stage four into Morro Bay descended into chaos in the final kilometres after a mass pile-up that blocked the EF Education First rider and a number of other leading contenders.
Roglic went down, but is not out . . .
The biggest news of the day so far, other than breakaway specialist Thomas De Gendt decided against putting himself up the road, is that race leader Primoz Roglic has hit the deck after getting himself involved in a mass pile-up.
Once he had picked up a new bike and had dropped back to the medical car for some treatment, the Jumbo-Visma rider was soon back on the road. The Slovenian is currently riding along surrounded by his team-mates.
Two riders not so fortunate, though, were Laurens ten Dam (CCC) and Robert Power (Sunweb) who have both abandoned.
Just under 120km of today's stage remain and the breakaway has grown to over five minutes.
Ciao, buongiorno and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage six of the 102nd edition of the Giro d'Italia, the 233km run from Cassino to San Giovanni Rotondo.
Today's stage may have just one categorised climb – the category two Coppa Casarinelle – but with over 2,500 metres of vertical elevation it's a tough one. In addition to the points on offer in the mountains classification – a competition that is currently being led by Trek-Segafredo's Italia rider Giulio Ciccone – there are two 'TV' sprints where those chasing the points classification (led by Pascal Ackermann of Bora-Hansgrohe) may consider adding to their respective tallies. Here's what time bonuses are on offer here today:
It has been a lively start to the stage, with a 13-man breakaway group having gone off up the road. It took them around an hour to form, and here's who's there: Andrey Amador (Movistar), Amaro Antunes (CCC Team), Nicola Bagioli (Nippo-Vino Fantini-Faizanè), Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani-CSF), Nicola Conci (Trek-Segafredo), Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates), Valentin Madouas (Groupama-FDJ), Fausto Masnada (Androni Giacattoli-Sidermec), Sam Oomen (Sunweb), Nans Peters (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Rubén Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy), José Joaquim Rojas (Movistar) and Pieter Serry (Deceuninck-Quick Step). As it stands that strong looking group lead the peloton by a shade over four minutes.
More big news incoming!
Where are we?
Here's a reminder of the route of this year's Giro d'Italia . . .
. . . and here are the details of each and every stage at this year's race:
As it stands . . .
Here's what the standings look like in the general, points, mountains, young rider and team classifications after five days of racing.
The Cycling Podcast: re-cap of yesterday's stage
The rain fell on the Giro d’Italia peloton more or less the whole way from Frascati to Terracina, meaning a sketchy sprint finish at the end of stage five.
Join Lionel Birnie and Daniel Friebe as they attempt to dry out in Terracina as they recap a very wet day and a second stage win for Giro d’Italia debutant Pascal Ackermann of the Bora-Hansgrohe team.
The lads discuss Tom Dumoulin’s departure from the Giro with Dutch journalist Hans Ruggenberg after the 2017 champion and 2018 runner-up withdrew a few kilometres into the stage following his crash the previous day.
Lionel and Daniel speculate on whether Primoz Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma team may be happy to let the pink jersey go out on loan during Thursday’s hilly stage to San Giovanni Rotondo and there’s reaction to the doping scandal that forced Bahrain-Merida’s Kristjian Koren out of the race, including an interview with the team’s coach Paolo Slongo.