Colombia’s Fernando Gaviria underlined his status as the 100th Giro d’Italia’s top sprinter after powering to an impressive fourth victory at the end of stage 13 on Friday.
Gaviria, of the Quick Step team, looked out of contention during a hectic dash for the finish but produced a ferocious late burst to stun Ireland’s Sam Bennett (Bora) at the end of a mainly flat 167km ride from Reggio Emilia to Tortona.
Dutchman Tom Dumoulin, of Sunweb, finished close behind in the race leader’s pink jersey to maintain his 2min 23sec lead over race favourite and 2014 champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
But before the race for the ‘maglia rosa’ moves back into the mountains on Saturday’s 14th stage to the summit finish at Oropa, Gaviria enjoyed another day of glory on his race debut.
The Giro sprint field may be missing the likes of German Marcel Kittel, Briton Mark Cavendish and Slovakian Peter Sagan, but Gaviria, a former two-time world champion in track cycling’s omnium event, has been beaten only twice in five sprint finishes so far.
He lost out to German giant Andre Greipel on stage two and finished runner-up to Australian Caleb Ewan after a photo finish decision on stage seven.
Elsewhere, best for UAE Team Emirates were Robert Ferrari (4th), Sacha Modolo (7th), Matej Mohoric (25th) and Jan Polanc (35th).