Valerio Conti kept hold of the pink jersey after stage seven of the Giro d’Italia, which Pello Bilbao won for his biggest triumph to date.
Pello Bilbao pipped breakaway partners Tony Gallopin and Davide Formolo at the end of the Giro d’Italia’s seventh stage to claim his first triumph in a Grand Tour.
The 29-year-old Astana rider was first across the line at L’Aquila having timed his dart to finish to perfection from 1.5 kilometres out.
Bilbao finished sixth in the general classification in last year’s Giro and he moved up to 11th in this year’s standings, with Valerio Conti still leading the way.
Italy’s Conti captured the pink jersey on Thursday after finishing stage six in second place and he held onto it following Friday’s racing.
Jose Rojas cut his lead to one minute and 32 seconds having threatened to win the stage himself, eventually coming home in sixth.
Simon Yates and Vincenzo Nibali, two of those likely to be in the running for the GC title come the end, experienced uneventful days and are down in 15th and 16th.
#Giro d’Italia 2019 – Stage 7 | Tappa 7
Maglia Rosa @EnelGroupIT: @valerioconti93
Maglia Ciclamino @segafredoitalia: @Ackes171
Maglia Azzurra @BancaMediolanum: @giuliocicco1
Maglia Bianca @EurospinItalia: @GioviCarboni pic.twitter.com/kTEzzHEJhd
— Giro d’Italia (@giroditalia) May 17, 2019
Sprinter Gaviria withdraws
Conti’s UAE Team Emirates rider Fernando Gaviria had been expected to be in the running for the sprint title he won in 2017 and he held the violet jersey after winning stage three.
Yet his race was run during Friday’s section as the team revealed the Colombian had been battling pain in his left knee “for the last few days”.
His absence made Conti’s feat of keeping the pink jersey all the more impressive as he was left with just four team-mates in support.
“It’s been very difficult to retain the Maglia Rosa because it looked like the whole peloton wanted to break away today,” Conti said.
1. Pello Bilbao (Astana) 4:06:27
2.Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:05
3. Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:05
4. Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:09
5. Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) +0:09
1. Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) 29:29:34
2. Jose Rojas (Movistar) +1:32
3. Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani CSF) +1:41
1. Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) 133
2. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 87
3. Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) 66
King of the Mountains
1. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 24
2. Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) 18
3. Antonio Pedrero (Movistar) 18
The likes of Yates and Nibali are unlikely to make their moves on Saturday, when the riders complete a relatively flat 239km that will suit the sprinters.