Breakaway rider Marco Canola capitalised on an incohesive chase from the peloton to claim a surprise victory on stage 13 of the Giro d’Italia.
The 25-year-old Italian formed part of a six-man escape on a day that looked certain to end in a bunch finish, but the sprint teams in the main pack failed to pool their resources sufficiently and were unable to make the catch.
Canola attacked to reduce the breakaway to three riders 17km out and went on to sprint to the biggest win of his career ahead of runner-up Jackson Rodriguez and third-placed Angelo Tulik.
The peloton finally started to make inroads into their deficit in the final 5km and crossed the line in Rivarolo Canavese just 11 seconds after the front three, with race leader Rigoberto Uran finishing in the main bunch to consolidate his 37-second lead over Cadel Evans in the general classification.
Canola said afterwards: “This is a massive surprise. I didn’t expect to be going for the win today. It’s my most special win. I worked all day long. Of course, sometimes life just gives you these opportunities and it was a beautiful day for me. I think it’s the best day of my sporting career."
Canola (Bardiani-CSF), Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) and Tulik (Europcar) were joined in the breakaway by Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Gert Dockx (Lotto Belisol) and Jeffry Romero (Colombia), but with the 157km stage containing only one categorised climb more than 35km from the finish, their efforts looked little more than a chance to give exposure to sponsors.
The peloton was vigilant to begin with and allowed a maximum gap of only 3min 33sec, but when they entered the final 40km, the sprint teams began to look to each other to do the chasing rather than work together.
With the breakaway's gap still at around two minutes with 20km remaining, Canola sensed an opportunity and attacked his fellow escapees soon after. Rodriguez and Tulik were able to follow, but they had no response when he launched his sprint for the line with 200m to go.
Stage 13 result
1 Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, 3:37:20
2 Jackson Rodriguez (Col) Androni Giocattolo-Venezuela, same time
3 Angelo Tulik (Fra) Europcar, st
4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ, +11secs
5 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek Factory Racing, st
6 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale, st
7 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Giant-Shimano, st
8 Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky, st
9 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st
10 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana, st
1 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, 53:15:06
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, +37secs
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo, +1:52
4 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +2:32
5 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin, +2:50
6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +3:29
7 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, +3:37
8 Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, +4:06
9 Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC, +4:20
10 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Trek Factory Racing, +4:41