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As it happened: Davide Bais wins Giro d'Italia stage 7 as GC contenders hold fire on Gran Sasso

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Buongiorno and welcome to our live coverage of stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia.

It's time for the mountains! today's 218km stage climbs high into the central Italian Apennines to finish at 2130m. 

The sun is out in Capu near Naples where the stage starts but it is colder at the finish. 

Indeed, there were a lot of serious faces as the riders signed in Capua. 

It is also starting to rain at the start in Capua but the stage is confirmed.

The rider roll out of Capua. They face a 2.6km section and then the 218km stage will begin.

Remco Evenepoel has covered his white rainbow jersey with a black rainbow rain jacket. 

We can see Joe Dombrowski on the front. It's the American's 32nd birthday and so perhaps has extra motivation to get into the break of the day. 

Mark Cavendish was involved in a second crash on stage 6  but is still racing today. 

They're off! 

EF Education, Trek and Eolo are all trying to get into the early break.

The opening 60km are on flat roads and so it might be difficult for the break to form.

We have a four-rider attack.

210km to go

The gap is already up to a minute. 

Jayco, Movistar and Bora are on the front of the peloton and seem happy for the four-rider break to go clear. 

These are the four riders in the break

Simone Petilli is the closest in the GC but is 7:49 down on the maglia  rosa.

Team DSM is starting to lead the chase to defend the maglia rosa. There is an unwritten rule that the race leader's team should control the peloton for at least the first half of the stage.

200km to go

The 218km stage heads north and deep into central Italy today.

As you may have seen in our news,  two more riders have left the race on Friday due ot COVID-19.

The first mountain finish of the Giro d'Italia is always a mental battle as well as an intense day of racing.

"For the moment, I have the impression that he's a bit nervous," Evenepoel told Eurosport France's Rois de la Pédale show about how he sees Roglič, widely considered his biggest rival in this Giro.

These are the current GC standings after stage 6.  

Back to the racing and Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa), Henok Mulubrhan (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè), Simone Petilli (Intermarché - Circus - Wanty), Karel Vacek (Team Corratec - Selle Italia) lead the peloton by a now significant 6:20. 

185km to go

The riders can see the first hills ahead of them now. 

180km to go

It's again pouring with rain on the riders, it's time to cape up and stay safe.

170km to go

The break of stage 7: Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa), Henok Mulubrhan (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè), Simone Petilli (Intermarché - Circus - Wanty) and Karel Vacek (Team Corratec - Selle Italia)

Andreas Leknessund's pink jersey keeps  getting wet. 

160km to go

That gap will surely  grow more as Andreas Leknessund stops to put on leg warmers. 

Tick, tock, tick, tock, the break lead the peloton by 10:00 minutes after Andreas Leknessund stopped to put on his leg warmers. 

Three EF riders stop at a team car parked on the road to change their gillet and capes. 

The EF Education-EasyPost riders didn't seem to like the rain

Alberto Bettiol of EF Education-EasyPost toughs it out.

Tao Geoghegan Hart didn't seem to mind  the rain

150km to go

There is something emotional about breakaways. Yesterday's stage was a perfect example.

 

The pain and frustration were evident on Clarke's face as he spoke to the media at the finish. "We make so many sacrifices that it really hurts when you go so close to victory like that," Clarke said.

Their collective experience and grit showed as they poured enough effort into holding off the chase while remaining cagey enough to save something for the sprint.

Clarke didn't hold a grudge against De Marchi for playing cat and mouse, however. "At the end of the day, there's always going to be a moment when you have to decide to stop pulling. You can't pull all the way until 10 metres to go. We needed 10 or 15 more seconds, but it was just the way it was.

142km to go

The sun has come out after the rain, so riders are stripping off yet again. 

After two hours of racing, the average pace is 37.550km/h. 

This is the terrain the riders are on today.

The stage finish at the Campo Imperatore ski station should be spectacular. The riders will pass through banks of snow on twisting roads.

130km to go

Castel di Sangro is the site of an intermediate sprint. 

Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa) kicks and so wins the sprint.

The Giro d'Italia is in a remote, hilly part of central Italy but the crowds are still out to watch the race. 

Meanwhile, the peloton reaches Castel di Sangro and Mads Pedersen won the sprint for fifth place. 

Cyclingnews attends as many major races as possible to produce the best coverage we can for our occasional readers and especially for our subscribers. 

The Giro d’Italia kicks off the summer of Grand Tour racing and Cyclingnews will again provide unrivalled coverage of the Corsa Rosa, capturing all the racing, rider reaction, bike tech and polemica that only an Italian Grand Tour can inspire.

118km to go

As the peloton climbs out of Castel di Sangro, a number of riders grab their musette to take on food and drinks. 

The peloton is in Roccaraso, where stages of the Giro d'Italia and Tirreno-Adriatico have often finished. 

108km to go

All the GC contenders, including Remco Evenepoel are carefully tucked in the peloton.

We talked about Mads Pedersen earlier and he joined an exclusive club by winning a stage at the Giro in Naples.  

Click below to read the full story and get the full data on the Grand Tour stage winners. 

90km to go

87km to go

The three remaining breakaway riders continue to enjoy a healthy lead, with just under 12 minutes in hand.

Mulubrhan is caught by the bunch with 79km to go. Given the gap, it's taken quite a while for him to drift back. 

The gap is falling steadily now - down to 10:30 with 75km to go. 

More layers are being shed now as the sun properly comes out and the pace starts to pick up in the peloton.

It's been a quiet day so far but we've only got another 20 or so kilometres in the valley before we start climbing.

DSM continue to lead the peloton and the gap drops below the 10-minute mark with 65km to go.

The breakaway are approaching the second intermediate sprint, at Bussi sul Tirino. After that we have another dozen kilometres on the flat before the road kicks uphill. 

The second intermediate sprint on each stage only counts for the intermediate sprints classification, and not the proper points classification. It also carries bonus seconds for GC, but these will be taken by the breakaway trio. So don't expect any peloton action when they reach it.

57km to go

Petilli and Vacek follow him over the line.

There are some superb views to enjoy during stage 7.

Ineos Grenadiers are staying together.

Remco Evenepoel, like all the GC riders, is watching and waiting. 

50km to go

Andreas Leknessund is protected by his Team DSM teammates 

The break is way out front but the speed is riding in the peloton.

The views of the Giro d'Italia.

42km to go

The ascent is divided into two parts, especially regarding  the Mountains Classification. The first one climbs until Calascio, the second one is shorter but steeper and goes up to the finish.

This is the final climb. 

Barry Ryan is at Campo Imperatore for the finish and warns us about the wind. 

40km to go

"The climbs in the finale are long but not very steep," Ineos DS Matteo Tosatto told Cyclingnews

In Naples on Thursday evening, Leknessund was cautiously optimistic about his prospects of defending his 28-second lead over Evenepoel at Gran Sasso d'Italia.

"I don't expect big surprises," Tosatto countered. 

Back to the racing and Geraint Thomas has a bke problem. He seemed to drop his chain, like yesterday. 

Meanwhile, a number of sprinters and domestiques have been distanced. 

37km to go

35km to go

Jonathan Milan used his power to do some work for Bahrain. He has now eased up and slipped back.

Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) is up front but only has two teammates ahead of him.

No other GC teams helped Team DSM with the chase today, preferring to save their riders for the fast climb to the finish. 

32km to go

The views from Calascio are spectacular. 

In the peloton the GC trains are forming near the front. That naturally raises he pace. 

This was Evenepoel a little earlier. 

The two DSM riders are Florian Stork and Harm Vanhoucke. 

28km to go

Stefan Kung leads Pinot up to the KOM line, so he can sweep up more minor points. This time he scores 4 points, behind Bais, Petilli and Vacek.  

Bais, Petilli and Vacek still lead by 8:00 but they look tired now. 

Bais, Petilli and Vacek have started the 26.5km climb to the finish.

24km to go

Groupama are impressed by the views at the finish. 

21km to go

Riders are slowly dropping out of the back, with Pascal Ackermann the last to take a ticket and his cape as his team car came past. 

20km to go

Bais, Petilli and Vacek still ead by 7:30. 

However they'll have to fight the strong headwind, which could hurt them and cost them a lot of time.

Well done Ben Swift. He punctured when he went off the road buty has chased back to the peloton to give one last effort for his team leaders.

The road is climbing gradually along the side of the mountains, getting closer and closer to the snow line. 

Soudal, AG2R and DSM are lined out across the front of the peloton, with their team leaders behind them.

Every team is riding to defend their position in the peloton as they pass the 20km to mark.

The 10km point seems to be a key moment, when a team could accelerate. 

The roads are exposed and above the tree line, so the wind is more of a factor.

Simone Petilli (Intermarché - Circus - Wanty) is no longer the virtual maglia rosa but he or Bais or Vacek could win the stage.

11km to go

Evenepoel has 4 teammates ahead of him, as the headwind blows on the high plateau road.

10km to go

A section of tailwind helps them and perhaps makes them believe.

The peloton also seems cautious and that helps the attackers.

We can see Ineos and UAE up front, alongside Soudal, now. 

The race is at the snow line. 

Bais, Petilli and Vacek are all suffering as they try to stay away.

5km to go

The break of the day

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are some tired faces in the peloton. 

4km to go

Bora and Jumbo are also up front in the peloton.

And then there were two. 

The few fans along the roadside are wrapped up against the cold.

Vacek is back with Bais and Petilli. 

Behind Thomas Champion of Cofidis accelerates but the GC teams let him go.

Bais, Petilli and Vacek are going shoulder to shoulder. It's a race or survival. 

1.5km to go

Bais, Petilli and Vacek  lead by 5:00 so will fight for the stage win.

Movistar lead the peloton but nobody attacks or sets a high pace. 

Bais, Petilli and Vacek are back together. 

Bais, Petilli and Vacek will sprint for the stage win.

2km for the peloton.

Here we go. Sprint! 

This is a thriller. 

Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa) wins! 

The Italian dug deep and finally got a gap on the other two with just 150m to race. 

Karel Vacek (Team Corratec - Selle Italia) was in pain but finished second.

Simone Petilli (Intermarché - Circus - Wanty) was third.

Here come the GC contenders but they're all together.

Ineos lead it out. 

There are no time bonuses left to take. 

Nobody wants to lose a second. 

Dunbar ups the speed and Evenepoel tries to sprint but there is no gap on the rest.  

Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM) was there too, so saves the maglia rosa for another day. 

This is the moment Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa) won the stage.

Well, that was a very tactical race amongst the GC contenders, creating more questions than answers.

These are perhaps some answers: 

Incredibly this is Bias first's pro win! 

It's a second stage win for Italy and a huge day for Eolo-Kometa.

Evenepoel quickly got wrapped-up and will head down the mountain to his hotel by helicopter. 

Here's a great shot of Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa) winning at Gran Sasso. 

This was the sprint amongst the GC riders, with Evenepoel leading them home at 3:10. 

These are the stage results.

This is how Bais win it.