Astana's Jakob Fuglsang has continued to keep the pressure on current Giro d'Italia race leader João Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and his other GC rivals, going clear inside the final 500 metres of stage 9 from San Salvo to Roccaraso, with its summit finish on the Aremogna on Sunday.
While EF Pro Cycling's Ruben Guerreiro – more than a minute-and-a-half further up the road – took the stage victory, it was Sunweb's Wilco Kelderman who initiated the move from among the GC favourites with some 400 metres left to go on the steep slopes of the final climb.
Only Fuglsang and Kelderman's Sunweb teammate Jai Hindley could follow the Dutch rider, and the trio put 14 seconds into overall favourites including Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Pello Bilbao (Bahrain McLaren) and, just as importantly, 18 seconds into current race leader Almeida. Jumbo-Visma's Steven Kruijswijk, meanwhile, lost a further three seconds and Lotto Soudal's Harm Vanhoucke dropped from fourth place to seventh overall after losing 21 seconds to Fuglsang and Kelderman.
"My team did a really good job, protecting me the whole day, staying around me, and making sure that we didn't miss any moves," Fuglsang said on his team's website on Sunday.
"On the final climb, it was up to me, but Fabio [Felline] stayed with me for a long time and worked perfectly for me," he said. "It turned out that there was a lot of headwind in the last kilometres, so I didn't really see any opportunity to try anything before the last few hundred metres.
"I was with all the GC contenders, and so I gave it everything and made up some time in the overall rankings," Fuglsang continued. "All in all, it was a good day for me and the team, and I'm happy with my results so far."
The riders can now enjoy the first of two rest days on Monday ahead of the race continuing on Tuesday with stage 10 from Lanciano to Tortoreto Lido, which should be one for the sprinters.
"It's a good way to go into the rest day like this, gaining some time on the GC, and I think I showed again that I can be there on the climbs there, where I have to be, and where I want to be," said Fuglsang. "It's a good feeling."
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