Contador crashes and loses lead to Aru on 13th Giro stage

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JESOLO, Italy (AP) Alberto Contador lost the overall lead of the Giro d'Italia to Fabio Aru after he was involved in a crash toward the end of Friday's 13th stage, which was won by Sacha Modolo.

Aru escaped the crash which took out a number of cyclists just outside the final three kilometers (two miles) to move 19 seconds ahead of Contador. Mikel Landa moved third, 1 minute,14 seconds behind the Italian.

Had the incident happened a few meters further up the road, everyone would have been given the same time as crashes within a certain distance of the finish line are neutralized.

It is the first time Contador has lost the overall lead of a Grand Tour in his career.

Aru came in at the same time as Modolo, while Contador - who was given a bicycle by a fellow rider in order to complete the stage - finished 46th, 40 seconds off the pace.

''We were really well-placed in the stage, but you could see the crash coming,'' Contador said. ''Then I thought about getting a bike, any bike.

''I think I can make the time up.''

Saturday could be the most important leg of the race, an unusually long individual time trial at 59.4 kilometers (36.9 miles) from Treviso to Valdobbiadene.

''It's a great feeling to finally wear the pink jersey,'' Aru said. ''It was really tough today, underneath the rain and on a flat course but full of roundabouts and other road traffic. I was always at the front, in a good position to try and avoid possible crashes, and when it happened I was safe.

''Now I'm just thinking about tomorrow. It will be a very important stage. I will give everything, but the Giro finishes next Sunday in Milan, not before.''

Modolo won the bunch sprint at the end of the entirely flat 147-kilometer (91-mile) leg from Montecchio Maggiore to the seaside resort of Jesolo, near Venice.

The Italian edged out Giacomo Nizzolo and Elia Viviani.

''Finally I won a stage,'' said Modolo, who has twice come close this race. ''My great teammate and friend Max Richeze set up the perfect sprint for me and I crowned the team's work.

''At Fiuggi I was disappointed with myself. At Forli the breakaway got there and so I couldn't be in the sprint. It was destiny that I won my home stage. I have many friends who have come to see me from San Vendemiano, where I'm from. It's an unforgettable win.''

Richie Porte's string of bad luck continued and his faint hopes of winning the Giro are all but over after he was also involved in the crash and lost more time, finishing over two minutes down on the leaders and falling more than five minutes behind Aru.

Contador, who dislocated his shoulder in another crash on the sixth stage, is attempting to become the first rider since Marco Pantani in 1998 to win the Giro and Tour de France in the same year.

A two-time Tour champion, Contador won the Giro in 2008 and was also triumphant in Milan in 2011 but was stripped of that title for testing positive in the 2010 Tour.

The 98th Giro ends on May 31 in Milan.