(Naples) Dutchman Olav Kooij won a sprint and took a stage victory in his first major race on Sunday at the Giro, where Tadej Pogacar maintained his considerable lead at the top.

This was the ninth stage of the Giro.

Kooij, who rides for Visma-Lease a Bike, beat Jonathan Milan by half a wheel at the end of the 214 kilometers from Avezzano to Naples. Juan Sebastian Molano finished third.

The route was the second longest on the Giro route.

Jhonatan Narvaez appeared to be on his way to victory, having increased the pace with 7.7 kilometers to go. He led by 12 seconds going into the final kilometer.

Pogacar, however, led a mass charge and Narvaez was caught, just 50 meters from time.

We expected a day favorable to breakaways but only two riders broke free from the start.

Teammates with Polti-Kometa, Mirco Maestri and Andrea Pietrobon had a long and lonely day before being caught, 24 kilometers from the finish.

Pogacar remained 2 minutes and 40 seconds ahead of Daniel Martinez in the general classification.

Geraint Thomas is 2:58 from the top, having finished second in 2023.

Monday will be the first day of rest, before a difficult section.

Starting in Pompeii, Tuesday’s stage is just 142km. There is, however, a second category climb in the middle and a steep climb to the finish, at Cusano Mutri.

The Giro will end in Rome on May 26.