Diego Ulissi won his second stage of the Giro

Monselice (Italy) (AFP) - Italy’s Diego Ulissi won the 13th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday as Joao Almeida retained the race leader’s pink jersey ahead of a crucial time trial that the Portuguese rider admitted will be “difficult”.

It was a second stage victory for Ulissi, of the UAE Emirates team, on this Giro and an eighth career stage win.

Ulissi edged Deceuninck’s Almeida and Austrian Patrick Konrad by half a wheel in a sprint finish to end a 192km stage.

“I was confident, I knew I was in good shape,” said Ulissi, 31, who won his first stage of the Giro on his debut in 2011.

Almeida gained bonus seconds for his finish, meaning he stretches his lead in the overall standings over Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman and Spain’s Pello Bilbao.

The stage, largely flat over the opening 150km, featured a seven-strong breakaway group that was reeled in gradually over two final climbs, the last of which was 17km from the finish.

Saturday’s 14th stage is a 34.1km time trial from Conegliano to Valdobbiadene.

“It will be difficult, I have never done such a long time trial,” said 22-year-old Almeida who was left frustrated by Friday’s near-miss.

“I’m a little disappointed, I wanted to win the stage.”

Meanwhile, the day after the Education First team had recommended ending the race a week early due to a “compromised coronavirus bubble”, Italian rider Vincenzo Nibali insisted there should be no rash decisions.

Nibali, a two-time Giro winner, believes the bubble is working well.

“We are trying to do things as well as possible,” Nibali told Italian television.

“There is always a case that could come out, just see what is happening not only in Italy but in all of Europe.”

He added: “There are of course lots of questions. But we know that, more than RCS Sport (organisers of the Giro) the decision will depend on what the government says.

“The Giro is an international heritage, we must think twice before stopping it.”

Two teams – Mitchelton and Jumbo – have already abandoned the Giro.