FIUGGI, Italy (AP) ? Francisco Ventoso of Spain won the stage he wanted when he edged Italian specialist Alessandro Petacchi in a sprint finish to win the sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday.
Ventoso led home a mass sprint to win the 216-kilometer (134-mile) stage from Orvieto to Fiuggi in 5 hours, 15 minutes, 39 seconds.
"This is the stage that I identified before the race," Ventoso said. "It was very long and very hard, but I kept going to the end and got it.
"Danilo (Di Luca) went out with 150 to 100 meters to go and I just tried to stay with him. Petacchi then tried to pass me, but he couldn't keep up."
Petacchi appeared to be headed for his second stage win of this year's Giro when he went head to head with Ventoso to the line. However, he abruptly stopped pedaling just before the finish and freewheeled across the line.
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Roberto Ferrari of Androni was third with the same time, while three-time Tour de France winner and race favorite Alberto Contador finished 39th in the same time.
Pieter Weening of the Netherlands retained the pink jersey, two seconds clear of Kanstantsin Sivtsov of Belarus and Marco Pinotto of Italy after more than 20 hours, 15 minutes. Contador was ninth, only 30 seconds behind.
"We had a good day," Weening said of his Rabobank team. "Everyone was strong and tomorrow we will try to do the same and hopefully I will get another day in pink."
Contador was ninth, only 30 seconds behind.
"Tomorrow?s stage is short," Contador said. "We will see who is doing well, but those who are in bad condition will be exposed. That said, I think the closing climb is not too demanding."
Jussi Veikkanen, Kristof Vandewalle, Yaroslav Popovych, Sacha Modolo and Frederik Veuchelen made the first break of the day, and even after dropping Modolo they still led 1 minute, 30 seconds at the 15-kilometer mark.
Vandewalle went alone with nine kilometers to go but was passed by the group less than two kilometers from the finish.
Friday's stage is 110 kilometers (68 miles) from Maddaloni to Montevergine di Mercogliano, featuring a final climb of 1,260 meters (4,133 feet). The Giro finishes in Milan on May 29.
Organizers say the ninth stage on Mount Etna on Sunday will go ahead despite the volcano erupting overnight.
Ash rained down on Catania and surrounding villages in the early hours of Thursday after the volcano became active, opening a crater pit on one side.
The ninth stage features two climbs on the volcano, including at the finish line at 1,892 meters (6,207 feet) above sea level.
Race director Angelo Zomegnan said in a statement that "Sunday's stage is not at risk. The stretch in question is only that of the last 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) on Etna. But onsite teams are already working to clear the road."
The Giro finishes in Milan on May 29.