Crafty teamwork helps Trentin win longest Giro stage

PINEROLO, Italy (AP) Matteo Trentin used a late counterattack and some crafty teamwork to win the longest stage of the Giro d'Italia on Thursday, while Steven Kruijswijk held on to a comfortable overall lead with only two challenging legs to go.

Cannondale's Moreno Moser and Trentin's Etixx Quick-Step teammate Gianluca Brambilla were in the lead approaching the finish line when Trentin bridged the gap from a chasing group. Brambilla was told by radio that Trentin was coming while Moser wasn't aware, allowing Trentin to burst past and claim his third victory in a Grand Tour.

''It was a win built with teamwork,'' said Trentin, who also won two stages in the Tour de France, in 2013 and 2014, plus the Paris-Tours single-day classic last year. ''I was sure that sooner or later a stage for me would come.''

Moser finished second and Brambilla crossed third, both with the same time as Trentin – nearly 5 1/2 hours. All three Italians were part of an early breakaway.

The main pack with Kruijswijk and the other leaders finished more than 13 minutes behind in the 18th stage, a 244-kilometer (152-mile) leg from Muggio to Pinerolo.

The route started out flat but concluded with some steep hills and a dangerous descent before flattening out again shortly before the finish.

With his open jersey revealing his bare chest, Trentin had time to celebrate as he coasted over the line.

''I tried to play it cool and keep Moser a little bit tired to keep him in the front,'' Brambilla said. ''I saw a blue jersey coming around so I stopped helping Moser, I just stayed in the wheel and we managed to get the victory. I'm really happy for Matteo.''

It was the fourth victory for the Etixx team after Marcel Kittel won the opening two sprints and Brambilla took Stage 8. Kittel and Brambilla also wore the overall leader's pink jersey briefly.

Kruijswijk leads Esteban Chaves by 3 minutes, with Alejandro Valverde 3:23 behind in third.

There are two challenging mountain stages Friday and Saturday before the 99th edition of the race ends in Turin on Sunday.

Stage 19 Friday features the Colle dell'Agnello pass, the highest point of the race at an altitude of 2,744 meters (9,000 feet). Organizers cleared meters (yards) of snow off the pass earlier this week.

''I'm getting closer every day to winning the Giro,'' Kruijswijk said. ''Tomorrow it looks like a good stage for me. I like long climbs. Maybe I can do something. After finishing second three times, I'd like a stage win as well but firstly I'll defend the Maglia Rosa (pink jersey).''