Breakaway rider Stefano Pirazzi claimed his first Giro d’Italia win with a late attack on stage 17 as Nairo Quintana retained his overall race lead.
Pirazzi was one of 26 riders who escaped from the peloton earlier in the day and subsequently formed part of a more select five-man group heading into the final 15km.
It looked like the quintet would sprint against each other for the victory, but Pirazzi launched a surprise attack with 1.2km remaining and held off the chasers to hand Bardiani-CSF their third win of this year’s Giro.
All of the general classification contenders followed more than 15 minutes later in the peloton after negotiating the 208km stage at a sedate pace as they looked to recover from Tuesday’s draining 16th stage.
Pirazzi said: “I did think that between the first five it was going to be difficult and that we weren’t going to get down together to the end, and that I would have no chance against them."
Before stage 17 started, the sports directors from each team held a meeting to discuss potential action to take over the controversial descent from the Passo dello Stelvio on Tuesday, when Quintana gained almost two minutes on previous race leader Rigoberto Uran despite some teams believing that part of the of the route had been neutralised.
There had been concern that stage 17 consequently might not get under way on time, but the race started on schedule and, after almost two hours of failed attempts, a breakaway was finally allowed to move clear.
The escapees built up a lead of over 12 minutes, but the group broke apart when Thomas de Gendt (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) attacked just before the category-four ascent of the Muro di Ca’ del Poggio 20km out and was then joined by four other riders shortly after.
Pirazzi is a climber who specialises in uphill attacks and looked an underdog among the quintet with a flat finish looming, but he used his acceleration to decisive effect and broke down in tears after his victory.
The general classification battle resumes on Thursday with a 171km mountainous stage ending in a summit finish at Rifugio Panarotta.
Stage 17 result
1 Stefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, 4:38:11
2 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol, same time
3 Jay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo, st
4 Thomas de Gendt (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
5 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
6 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ, +28secs
7 Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Shimano, st
8 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing, st
9 Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani-CSF, st
10 Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
1 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, 73:05:31
2 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, +1:41
3 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC, +3:21
4 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Europcar, +3:26
5 Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo, +3:28
6 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana, +3:34
7 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +3:49
8 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin, +4:06
9 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin-Sharp, +4:16
10 Robert Kiserlovski (Ned) Trek Factory Racing, +8:02