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Pedersen wins Giro d’Italia Stage 6, Leknessund stays in lead after calmer day

106th Giro d'Italia 2023 - Stage 6

NAPLES, ITALY - MAY 11: Mads Pedersen of Denmark and Team Trek - Segafredo celebrates at finish line as stage winner ahead of Pascal Ackermann of Germany and UAE Team Emirates, Jonathan Milan of Italy and Team Bahrain - Victorious - Purple Points Jersey and Fernando Gaviria of Colombia and Movistar Team during the 106th Giro d’Italia 2023, Stage 6 a 162km stage from Naples to Naples / #UCIWT / on May 11, 2023 in Naples, Italy. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images,)

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NAPLES, Italy -- Mads Pedersen won Stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia after a two-man breakaway was caught with the line in sight.

Andreas Leknessund kept hold of the pink jersey.

Pedersen beat Jonathan Milan and Pascal Ackermann in a bunch sprint at the end of the picturesque 101-mile route that started and finished in Naples.

It looked as though Alessandro De Marchi and Simon Clarke were going to contest the victory after they were in a breakaway that went early in the day, but they were swallowed up less than 300 meters from the end. De Marchi shook his head and they embraced each other as they crossed the line.

“I’m very happy. That’s what we came here for,” Pedersen said. “It was difficult to catch the breakaway riders. We had to use all our teammates early.”

There were two categorized climbs along the stage that went around Mount Vesuvius before going through Sorrento and along the Amalfi coast on a relatively calm day.

That would have come as a relief to the riders after miserable weather the previous day caused several crashes.

Pre-race favorite Remco Evenepoel was in a lot of pain after being involved in two of those incidents but he appeared not to be too affected by that as he finished safely in the peloton to remain 28 seconds behind Leknessund.

Aurélien Paret-Peintre was third overall, 30 seconds behind Leknessund.

The color of the Giro is pink but the streets in and around Naples were festooned with blue in honor of the city’s soccer team after Napoli ended its 33-year wait for the Serie A title last week.

Despite the crashes the previous day, the only rider not to start was Clément Russo after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Giro hits the high mountains for Stage 7 with the edition’s first finish above 2,000 meters. The 135-mile route from Capua ends in a daunting top-category climb on the Gran Sasso d’Italia to Campo Imperatore.

“Today was a really nice day for being in the Maglia Rosa,” Leknessund said. “We also wanted to go for the stage win with Marius Mayrhofer but it didn’t work. I feel ready for the mountain stage tomorrow. I’ll do my best to keep the Maglia Rosa.”

The Giro ends in Rome on May 28.