Eros Capecchi outsprinted his two breakaway rivals to win a hard-fought 18th stage of the Giro d’Italia.
The 24-year-old Liquigas rider infiltrated a 15-man group in the last 60km and then pressed ahead with Marco Pinotti (HTC-Highroad) and Kevin Seeldraeyers (Quick-Step) on the climb of the Passo di Ganda.
The trio then opened up an insurmountable lead, and after a lengthy game of cat and mouse in the final 3km, Capecchi rounded Pinotti on the closing straight and clung on for the biggest win of his career in San Pellegrino Terme.
Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago), Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) and Alberto Losada (Katusha) were the next riders home in a splintered field, and Team Sky’s Russell Downing produced a late burst to lead home a small bunch of chasers in eighth place, four minutes and 34 seconds back.
Alberto Contador’s Maglia Rosa group were a further two minutes adrift but the Saxo Bank-Sungard rider didn’t lose any time on his GC rivals so remains 4min 58sec ahead of Michele Scarponi (Lampre) at the top of the overall standings.