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Cycling: Australian Matthews retains Giro as Evans lurks

Race leader Michael Matthews of Australia won the gruelling sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday as compatriot Cadel Evans lurked on a day's racing marred by a nasty crash.

MONTECASSINO: Race leader Michael Matthews of Australia won the gruelling sixth stage of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday as compatriot Cadel Evans lurked on a day's racing marred by a nasty crash.

Matthews, 23, surged home in a sprint finish to the 257km stage from Sassano to Montecassino, the longest on the Tour, ahead of Belgian Tim Wellens and Evans.

The leading peloton had a 49-second advantage over the main chasing pack that included a host of rivals to Evans, the big beneficiary of the day's racing.

"It was all for the win today," said Matthews. "Fair play. It was me against him (Cadel Evans) for the jersey and the stage, and I was lucky enough to have really good legs in the final after my team put me in the perfect condition at the bottom of the climb.

"On this sort of terrain, it's definitely my best win, and totally a dream come true. Winning a hilltop finish over Cadel Evans while wearing the Maglia Rosa in the Giro d'Italia: it doesn't get much better than that."

Heavy rain made for a slick surface and there were two falls in the final 12km, 8.7km of which was a steep climb.

Evan's BMC teammate, Switzerland's Steve Morabito, accelerated away to build up a lead that the fallen riders were unable to reel in.

In the general classication, Matthews has a 21-second lead over Evans, with Colombian Rigoberto Uran at one minute 18 seconds.

"Everyone wanted to be in the front because of the wet conditions," Matthews said of the lead-up to the worse crash.

"The road narrowed before the roundabout, we were riding at 60 kph, and everyone wanted to be in the front. If you're lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, you're OK. That's racing these days. It's all about positioning."

Friday's seventh stage is a 231km ride from Frosinone to Foligno, and Matthews vowed no let-up.

"We'll try again for the win tomorrow. We have a really strong team for the lead-outs, as we showed in the opening team time trial," he said.

"We're not going to back down now: we have two stage wins now. We'll push all the way and see how far we can get."

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