Portuguese Double As Guerreiro Wins Giro Ninth Stage

Ruben Guerreiro

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Portugal's Ruben Guerreiro of Education First won Sunday's 208km ninth stage of the Giro d'Italia from San Salvo to Roccaraso with compatriot Joao Almeida holding the overall leader's pink jersey.

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Guerreiro, 26, claimed his first stage victory after a tight battle in the rain against Spain's Jonathan Castroviejo of Ineos, who finished eight-seconds behind, with Danish rider Mikkel Bjerg of UAE Team Emirates in third at 58sec.

"Finally, what a great satisfaction after so many second places," said Guerreiro after narrowly missing out on stage successes of the Tirreno-Adriatico and Vuelta a Espana in the past 13 months.

"The team and I really deserved this victory. It was very difficult to get into the breakaway this morning and it's extraordinary to win today."

It was the second stage win for Education First in this year's Giro after Ecuadorian Jonathan Caicedo won last Monday on the summit at Mount Etna.

Deceuninck-Quick Step's Almeida faltered on the final 9.6km climb in the mountainous stage in Abruzzo, but holds the overall race leader's pink jersey going into the first rest day on Monday.

"I'm also happy for my compatriot Guerreiro, he deserves the win!" said Almeida.

"The team did an incredible job, they were perfect and it is thanks to my team-mates that now I still wear the Maglia Rosa."

Almeida finished the stage in 19th position nearly two minutes behind Guerreiro.

But the pink jersey holder has a 30-second lead on Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman, with Spaniard Pello Bilbao at 39sec going into Tuesday's 10th stage, still in Abruzzo, over 177km from Lanciano to Tortoreto Lido.

Two-time race winner Vincenzo Nibali of Italy is sixth overall nearly a minute behind Almeida as looks to add to his titles in 2013 and 2016.

The riders had set a speedy early pace hitting 50.6km an hour in the first hour before a breakaway of eight riders formed including Guerreiro and Castroviejo, with Berg joining them later.

Almeida's team controlled the peloton before Nibali's team took over with 40km to go.

The peloton arrived at the foot of the final 9.6km climb with a 5.7 percent gradient with a four-minute gap on the leading group.

Castroviejo followed by Guerreiro attacked with six kilometres to go without being able to shake off his rival who held on for just the second stage win for a Portuguese rider since Acacio da Silva 31 years ago.

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