Fernando Gaviria produced a remarkable sprint to claim his fourth win of this year’s Giro d’Italia on Stage 13, as Tom Dumoulin retained the overall lead.
Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) had looked out of contention when he entered the final 400m well adrift of the head of the race, but he cut his way back through the field brilliantly to beat Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) into second place and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) into third in Tortona.
All of the overall contenders followed safely in the peloton, meaning Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) remains 2’23” ahead of second-placed Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and 2’38” ahead of third-placed Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) at the top of the general classification.
Gaviria, who becomes the first rider in 39 years to win four or more stages of his debut Grand Tour, said: "It was a different sprint and a difficult sprint, but thanks to my team I managed to move through the field and win."
Stage 13 took the riders on a flat, 167km route from Reggio Emilia, just west of Bologna, to Tortona, north of Genoa, and looked certain to end in a bunch finish.
Pavel Brutt (Gazprom-RusVelo), Vincenzo Albanese (Bardiani-CSF) and Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates) mounted an early breakaway, but the sprint teams allowed them a maximum lead of just 2’30” and caught them with 22km to go.
The bunch slowed dramatically over the next 10km, but full speed was restored when Bora-hansgrohe hit the front with 5km left, and the German team were still on the nose going into the last 500m.
Although Quick-Step Floors’ lead-out riders were also well-placed, Gaviria had become detached and looked to have too much ground to make up.
However, he launched a long-range sprint with just under 350m to go, squeezed through the tightest of gaps on the right-hand side of the road and then powered on to arguably the most impressive of his four wins at the race so far.
In the peloton, the overall contenders were given a scare when crosswinds began blowing on the run into Tortona and caused a brief split, but all of them crossed the line with their general classification positions intact ahead of Stage 14’s summit finish at Oropa.
Dumoulin told Eurosport: “It was a day for survival. With the crosswinds it was sometimes a little bit tricky, but I was always really well protected by the team.
“It was another good day for us and we are looking forward to tomorrow. It suits me really well. It’s not a hard day; it’s an easy day and then just a 20-minute test.
“We always do that in January, the 20-minute test - it’s a famous test in our team and I can handle it. For sure they [his rivals] will attack me. I just have to stay calm and if the opportunity comes, the I will also try.”
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), one of the pre-race favourites, did not start Stage 13 due to injuries sustained in a crash on Stage 9.
Stage 13 result
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors, 3h 47’45”
2. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-hansgrohe, same time
3. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, st
4. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, st
5. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Team Dimension Data, st
6. Rudiger Selig (Ger) Bora-hansgrohe, st
7. Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, st
8. Caleb Ewan (Aus) ORICA-SCOTT, st
9. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal, st
10. Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin, st
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, 58h 28’53”
2. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, 2'23"
3. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, +2'38"
4. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr, +2'40"
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, +2'47"
6. Andrey Amador (Cos) Movistar, +3'05"
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors, +3'56"
8. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +3'59"
9. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana, +3'59"
10. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin, +4’17”