Sir Bradley Wiggins finished third on the race-ending time-trial at Tirreno-Adriatico as Alberto Contador completed overall victory.
Wiggins produced the best performance of his season so far by navigating a flat 9.1km course in San Benedetto del Tronto on Italy’s east coast in a time of 10min 24sec.
It was 11 seconds slower than stage-winner Adriano Malori’s blistering mark of 10min 13sec and five seconds behind runner-up Fabian Cancellara, but he took the scalp of three-time world time-trial champion Tony Martin, who could only finish fourth.
Contador was 29th fastest on the final stage but nevertheless sealed a 2min 5sec overall triumph and his first win in a stage race since the 2012 Vuelta a Espana.
Nairo Quintana produced an outstanding time trial to cling on to second in the general classification, even beating Contador by three seconds on the day.
Roman Kreuziger had looked poised to leapfrog Quintana and complete a Tinkoff-Saxo one-two overall, but he too was defeated by the Colombian and instead had to settle for third, 2min 14sec down on Contador.
Malori said afterwards: “It's the most beautiful victory in my entire life. I can't still believe myself. It's a reward to the efforts made for so many years. When I crossed the finish and saw the time, I compared it to other years and saw it was really good, but I didn't think I could win until Tony Martin came through the line."
Alex Dowsett (Movistar) made it two Britons in the top 10 on the day by finishing sixth, 20 seconds slower than team-mate Malori.
He briefly held the lead with a mark of 10min 32sec, which would have been good enough for third on the same stage last year, but found himself eclipsed by Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) and then Malori.
Martin (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) later fell 15 seconds short of the Italian's superb time, before both Wiggins (Team Sky) and Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) also failed in denying him a second time-trial win of the season.
Watch highlights of stage seven on Sky Sports 4 at 10pm GMT on Monday night. Repeated on Tuesday morning on Sky Sports 3 at 10am GMT.
Stage seven result
1 Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar, 10:13
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing, +6sec
3 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +11
4 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, +15
5 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano, +19
6 Alex Dowsett (GB) Movistar, +20
7 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, +22
8 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC, +23
9 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing, +24
10 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge, +26
20 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +38
26 Roman Kreuziger (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +40
29 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, +41
1 Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo, 25:28:45
2 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +2:05
3 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo, +2:14
4 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:39
5 Julian Arredondo (Col) Trek Factory Racing, 2:54
6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +3:04
7 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek Factory Racing, +3:09
8 Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha, +3:16
9 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana, same time
10 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky, +3:19
53 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +28:49
Watch Sky Sports' new cycling show "InCycle" on Wednesday at 6.30pm on Sky Sports 3.