BORA-hansgrohe sprinter Sam Bennett edged out Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) in a fiercely-contested Giro d'Italia Stage 7 finish in Praia a Mare.
On the long final straight there were several sprinters in with a chance: Sacha Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale) went first, accelerating on the left-hand side, only for Bennett, Viviani and Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain Merida) to come past him and take first, second and third respectively.
Danny Van Poppel (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) had looked perfectly placed coming into the final straight, but finished fifth behind Modolo, as the Belgian-born Irishman Bennett showed impressive patience and timing to register his debut Grand Tour stage victory.
In the general classification Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) retained the Maglia Rosa after the team's one-two on Mount Etna.
Modolo averaged the highest power out of the top four, while Bennett's effort shows the benefit of choosing the right wheel in the final sprint. He emerged from Viviani's slipstream to deny the Italian a third sprint win of this Giro:
Bennett said: "I'm really happy. We tried so hard in other sprints but never got the timing right. The team did a fantastic job, and I want to thank everyone who helped me get to this point."
On this 159km flat stage, a three-man breakaway went up the road after the peloton's departure from Pizzo: Davide Ballerini (Androni - Sidermec - Bottecchia), Maxim Belkov (Team Katusha Alpecin) and Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo) went clear after a brief battle to make it into the move.
The fearsome power needed to survive in a Grand Tour stage breakaway is demonstrated by Irizar's numbers as he burned through 4,085 calories and averaged a very impressive 275W across the stage:
Viviani mopped up fourth place at both of the day's intermediate sprints, extending his commanding lead in the race for the Maglia Ciclamino, and he was ably protected by his team for most of the race, illustrated by the huge difference in power outputs here between he and domestique Rémi Cavagna in the the first 50km of the stage:
The customary fight for position leading into the sprint was especially pronounced. Team Bahrain Merida, Lotto Soudal, Team LottoNL-Jumbo, EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, Trek-Segafredo, Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia and of course BORA-hansgrohe all battled for road position as they attempted to set up their sprinters.
In the end, Bennett proved strongest in the race for the line, and became the first Irishman to win a stage of the Giro d'Italia since Stephen Roche in 1987.
RACE DATA: Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe), first place:
- Time: 16"
- Speed: 67.2km/h
- Top speed: 71.2km/h
- Cadence: 110rpm
- Power: 1090W
- Max power: 1480W
Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), second place:
- Time: 17"
- Speed: 66.3km/h
- Top speed: 69.8km/h
- Cadence: 111rpm
- Power: 1075W
- Max power: 1343W
Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team), third place:
- Time: 18"
- Speed: 65.3km/h
- Top speed: 69.0km/h
- Cadence: 114rpm
- Power: 1029W
- Max power: 1382W
Sacha Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale), fourth place
- Time: 18’’
- Speed: 64.1km/h
- Top speed: 66.2km/h
- Cadence: 111rpm
- Power: 1129W
- Max power: 1341W
Top 10: Giro d'Italia Stage 7
|1||Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe)||3hr45'27"|
|2||Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)|
|3||Niccolò Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida)|
|4||Sacha Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale)|
|5||Danny Van Poppel (Team LottoNL-Jumbo)|
|6||Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia)|
|7||Clement Venturini (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|8||Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo)|
|9||Jürgen Roelandts (BMC Racing Team)|
|10||Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal)|
Top 10 GC after Stage 7:
|1||Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT)||26hr 31'30"|
|2||Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)||+16"|
|3||Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-SCOTT)||+26"|
|4||Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida)||+43"|
|5||Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)||+45"|
|6||Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team)||+53"|
|7||Pello Bilbao (Astana Pro Team)||+1.03"|
|8||Chris Froome (Team Sky)||+1:10"|
|9||George Bennett (Team LottoNL-Jumbo)||+1:11"|
|10||Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates)||+1:12"|
Giro d'Italia Stage 8
Saturday's Stage 8 is a long one: 209km, with a sting in the tail at the end: