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With snow piled high on the roadsides, Italian outsider Davide Bais won stage seven of the Giro d’Italia from a breakaway on the highest peak in the Apennines on Friday.
Andreas Leknessund retained the overall lead against expectations on a testing and relentless climb above the treeline after which there was no change in the general classification.
Leknessund leads ahead of favourite Remco Evenepoel and Aurelien Paret-Peintre, while the Ineos pair of Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart kept the pace, as did Damiano Caruso and Joao Almeida.
The 23-year-old Evenepoel, of the Soudal Quick-Step team, skipped away from a weary peloton over the final few hundred metres on the Grand Sasso (Big Rock) to finish fourth on the day, with 33-year-old Jumbo leader Primoz Roglic following him over the finish line in fifth place at over 2100m altitude.
The little known 25-year-old journeyman Bais escaped early in the stage with Czech rider Karel Vacek coming second, nine seconds off the pace, and another Italian Simone Petilli finishing third.
Saturday’s stage eight is on slightly rolling terrain while on Sunday Filippo Ganna of Italy will be co-favourite with Evenpoel in a blockbuster 35km individual time trial.