Fernando Gaviria sprinted to victory on Stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia and took the overall lead after his Quick-Step Floors team split the peloton with a crosswinds masterclass.
Six members of Belgian squad broke away from the bunch with five other riders by accelerating on an exposed road 10km from the finish in Cagliari just as 45km/h gusts were blowing.
Seven of them hung on to the line, where Gaviria claimed the first Grand Tour stage win of his career by comfortably beating Rudiger Selig (Bora-hansgrohe) into second place and Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafedo) into third.
Gaviria collected 10 bonus seconds for his triumph and now moves to the top of the general classification, nine seconds ahead of second-placed André Greipel (Lotto Soudal).
Greipel had been one of the 11 to break away but was dropped when his foot dislodged from his pedal, eventually crossing the line in the peloton 13 seconds down in 10th place.
Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-hansgrohe) also finished in the bunch and falls to third overall, 13 seconds adrift of Gaviria.
Gaviria had team-mate Bob Jungels to thank for driving the pace on the front of the breakaway group for much of the 10km it was away.
Jungels told Eurosport: “I always say, sometimes anticipating is much better than reacting. Everybody was nervous today and everybody knew that section was coming next to the sea.
“We had a small plan. We are an experienced team for these situations, but you also need some luck, and today we had a good combination of it.”
Stage 3 took the riders on a largely flat 148km route from Tortoli to Cagliari on the Giro’s final day in Sardinia ahead of Monday’s rest day.
A four-man breakaway made up of Ivan Rovny (Gazprom-RusVelo), Kristian Sbaragli (Team Dimension Data), Eugert Zhupa (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) and Jan Tratnik (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) escaped from the peloton early, but they were caught with 26km to go.
The final 20km were battered by both head and crosswinds, but the peloton stayed together until it reached an exposed stretch of road on the outskirts of Cagliari.
Quick-Step Floors swiftly moved to the front and broke clear thanks to an electric injection of pace from Jungels, who was joined by team-mates Gaviria, Laurens De Plus, Ariel Richeze, Iljo Keisse and Pieter Serry.
Selig, Nizzolo and Greipel reacted quickly enough to join the move, as did Kanstantsin Siutsou (Bahrain-Merida) and Nathan Haas (Team Dimension Data), but all of the other sprinters and general classification contenders missed out.
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) both attempted to bridge across and briefly worked with Greipel after the German had been dropped, but they were unable to make up the distance and subsequently rejoined the peloton.
The breakaway’s lead quickly grew to 31 seconds, but with the Quick-Step riders now tiring in the wind and the other members unwilling to contribute, they saw their advantage cut by more than half at the finish.
Haas led out the sprint in Cagliari, but Gaviria timed his sprint to perfection and won with ease.
Stage 3 result
1 Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors, 3:26:33
2 Rudiger Selig (Ger) Bora-hansgrohe, same time
3 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek Segafredo, st
4 Nathan Haas (Aus) Team Dimension Data, st
5 Ariel Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors, st
6 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Dimension Data, +3sec
7 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, st
8 Caleb Ewan (Aus) ORICA-SCOTT, +13
9 Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, st
10 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal, st
1 Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors, 14:45:16
2 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal), +9sec
3 Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-hansgrohe, +13
4 Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, same time
5 Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team Dimension Data, st
6 Caleb Ewan (Aus) ORICA-SCOTT, +17
7 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, st
8 Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Team Dimension Data, +23
9 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team LottoNL-Jumbo, st
10 Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, st