Lennard Kämna defended his sixth place overall at the 106th Giro d'Italia with the last of his strength, while Olympic champion Primoz Roglic has returned in the duel of the superstars. Kämna crossed the finish line on Thursday on the difficult 161-kilometre mountain stage from Oderzo to Val di Zoldo, just under three minutes behind the Italian winner of the day, Filippo Zana, leaving his fiercest rivals behind.

At the top of the overall standings remains former Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas, who, on his 37th birthday, together with the resurgent Slovenian Primoz Roglic, finished just under two minutes behind the breakaways in Val di Zoldo. Roglic thus moved up to second place in the overall standings over Portugal's Joao Almeida and can continue to dream of his first Giro triumph. The Slovenian professional cyclist had shown weaknesses during the stage, but was at his best in the finale. Thomas is now 29 seconds ahead of Roglic, closely followed by Almeida (+0:39).

Exchange of blows in the mountains

In the battle for the day's victory, Zana prevailed in the sprint against the French star Thibaut Pinot. However, the former Tour third Pinot moved up to seventh place in the overall standings and retains the mountain jersey. Kämna is 4:27 minutes behind in the overall standings and is therefore still within striking distance of fourth and fifth place.

On Friday, the next exchange of blows in the mountains follows, when the extremely difficult final climb to the Three Peaks with gradients of 18 percent awaits the riders. In total, the 183-kilometre 19th stage from Longarone to the mountain finish will have three climbs of the first category and two of the second category to be mastered. On Saturday, the mountain time trial to Monte Lussari follows, before the final stage with start and finish in Rome on Sunday should be a matter for the sprinters.