Abu Dhabi: UAE Team Emirates’ Valerio Conti retained the pink jersey on Friday after crossing the line on Stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia with the main peloton.

The 185km route from Vasto to L’Aquila was dominated by a breakaway, and it proved successful with Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team) crossing the line to take the stage win.

Despite finishing just over a minute behind, Conti and his teammates controlled the race and successfully protected the pink jersey, ensuring that UAE Team Emirates head into the weekend still holding onto the General Classification.

“We knew it would be a hard stage, but it was harder than expected. I want to thank the team that has proved to be a family, ready to give their all and who helped empower me along the whole 185km. I have special gratitude for them; they have gifted me another day wearing the Pink Jersey,” said Conti.

There was, however, disappointment for Fernando Gaviria, who was forced to abandon the race at 50km after suffering with pain in his left knee for the last few days.

Commenting on the withdrawal, Gaviria said: “I was struggling from the start today and my left knee has been already been hurting for a few days. I tried to hang on but I could barely push the pedals. It’s a pity because we were doing OK in the sprints and were ready to have another crack. The knee pain can be complicated, but I’ll rest now, take care of the knee pain and come back and build towards the next big goal.”