Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni claimed his second win of the 2014 Giro d’Italia with victory on stage seven in Foligno.
Bouhanni, winner of Tuesday’s first Italian stage, the controversial finish in Bari, showed his dominance in the bunch sprints by triumphing at the end of the 211-kilometre route from Frosinone.
Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) was second and Luka Mezgec (Giant-Shimano) third, while the top of the overall rankings were unchanged, with Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) retaining the race leader’s pink jersey.
Matthews finished in fourth a day after winning the sixth stage and will wear the maglia rosa for Saturday’s 179km eighth stage from Foligno to Montecopiolo.
The undulating day ahead may present an opportunity for Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who sits 21 seconds behind in second, with Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) third, one minute 18 seconds behind.
Maglia Rosa – Balocco: Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge)
Maglia Rossa – Algida: Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.FR
Maglia Bianca – F.lli Orsero: Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge)
Maglia Azzurra – Banca Mediolanum: Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge)
Bouhanni said: (on the sprint): “I wanted to start my sprint as we came out of the bend, but I was on the right hand side and Matthews and NIzzolo closed the door to my left. I had to go right, saw a little gap, and managed to make my way through.”
And on getting the Maglia Rosa: “I took a point for 5th place in the intermediate sprint today, so in the mountain stages tomorrow and the day after, I’ll go for the intermediate sprints and keep the jersey as long as I possibly can.”
Comparisons with Kittel and Cavendish: “Kittel and Cavendish are great sprinters. I’m only 23, and my goal is always to improve, not just from season to season, but every time I go out training. I try to learn from my mistakes, and I try never to make the same one twice. But I don’t think I can be compared with Kittel and Cavendish: their careers are very different from mine.”