Contador retains Giro lead despite dislocated shoulder

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FIUGGI, Italy (AP) — A day after dislocating his shoulder in a crash, Alberto Contador retained the overall lead in the Giro d'italia on Friday as Diego Ulissi sprinted to victory in the longest stage of the race.

Contador, who was injured in a fall on the final sprint of Thursday's sixth stage, competed with lower pressure in his tires to ease any strain on his shoulder. The real test will come this weekend when the race takes to the mountains.

"I'm happy because I got through the day," Contador said. "I suffered a lot from the pain and I'm happy to be here. After three, four hours I didn't know what to do with my arm, but I hope and I'm confident that it will get better as the days pass.

"Tomorrow is one of the stages that I marked out for myself as one of my targets. Now it will be difficult for me and I expect attacks. At the moment I'm only thinking about resting and putting ice on my shoulder. Then we'll see."

The Spaniard, attempting to become the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Giro and Tour de France in the same year, maintained a two-second lead over Italy's Fabio Aru and a 20-second advantage over third-place Richie Porte.

Ulissi was overcome with emotion at the finish, collapsing on the ground after holding off other more recognized sprinters on the slightly uphill finish to a mainly flat 264-kilometer (164-mile) seventh stage from Grosseto to Fiuggi.

Juan Lobato was second, just ahead of Simon Gerrans after nearly 7 1/2 hours of cycling on the longest stage of the Giro since 1989.

Ulissi had only recently returned from a suspension after testing positive for the banned substance salbutamol during last year's Giro.

"There are great sprinters here and I knew I wasn't the favorite today," Ulissi said. "I started early because I was scared of being caught.

"This win cancels out what happened. They were very difficult months. But I have to say that I am really happy for how I reacted."

There are two second-category climbs in addition to the opening first-category ascent on Saturday's 186K (115.6-mile) leg from Fiuggi to Campitello Matese.

The 98th Giro ends on May 31 in Milan.

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