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Cycling-Sanchez wins sixth Giro stage, Pogacar retains lead

(Adds details) May 9 (Reuters) –

Spaniard Pelayo Sanchez claimed victory in the sixth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Thursday when he beat two other escapees at the uphill finish in Rapolano Terme. Sanchez (Movistar), Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) and Australian Luke Plapp (Jayco AlUla) stayed clear of the chasing peloton at the height of the 180km stage.

But the 24-year-old Sánchez had the legs to keep Alaphilippe and fellow Giro debutant Plapp at bay. Race leader Tadej Pogacar finished safely in the peloton to hold the Maglia Rosa ahead of Friday’s time trial.

A fast and furious stage featuring two of the gravel sections used in this year’s Strade Bianche took the riders on an undulating course through the Tuscan countryside. After a day of constant attacks, a leading group was eventually formed, but was reduced to just three as the dusty gravel sections began to take their toll.

At one point Plapp was the virtual race leader, but the peloton, driven at the front by the Ineos Grenadiers, gave chase and finished just 29 seconds behind. “This is great, a crazy day for me,” Sánchez said of the biggest win of his career. “I could never imagine that I would win this stage.

“It was full throttle all day and I was waiting for my moment to make my move and in the end I was with Plapp and Alaphilippe and luckily I was the fastest in the sprint.” Slovenian GC favorite Pogacar resisted any urge to go for the stage win, but looked very strong in the peloton on a day when the average speed over four hours of racing reached 44 km/h.

Pogacar leads the overall battle by 46 seconds from Ineos Grenadiers’ Geraint Thomas, with Dani Martinez (Bora-Hansgrohe) in third, another second behind. “For us it was perfect if (the leading group) stayed away,” Pogacar said. “We didn’t want to waste too much energy. Ineos rode super fast on the gravel, but for me it was a good stage, glad it’s over, it was a nice day.”

Pogacar’s Giro debut couldn’t have gone better so far and he will look to extend his lead in Friday’s time trial – a 40.6km test from Foligno to Perugia.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)