Fernando Gaviria continued his sensational form at the Giro d'Italia on Friday, winning his second stage in succession and fourth in all as Tom Dumoulin comfortably retained his healthy general classification lead.
A flat 13th-stage route from Reggio Emilia to Tortona was always likely to conclude with a bunch sprint and Gaviria again proved the class of the field.
The 22-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider beat Bora-Hansgrohe's Sam Bennett into second place, with Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) taking third.
Gaviria is only the second man this century to claim four stage wins at a Giro before his 23rd birthday, following in the footsteps of Damiano Cunego in 2004.
Gaviria is the only rider in this year's peloton with 4 stage wins in one Giro (Bennati 3 in 2008 and Greipel 3 in 2016 are his best rivals) pic.twitter.com/puelHZEnuL-- Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 19, 2017
4 stage wins at 22 years of age at the Giro. in this century only two riders managed it: Damiano Cunego in 2004 and Fernando Gaviria in 2017 pic.twitter.com/njO3yYdo8p-- Giro d'Italia (@giroditalia) May 19, 2017
All of the GC contenders predictably posted the same time within the peloton, meaning Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) remains two minutes and 23 seconds ahead of nearest rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Vincenzo Albanese (Bardiani-CSF), Pavel Brutt (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Matej Mohoric (UAE Team Emirates) broke away early in the stage, but the trio were reeled in long before the finish.
Wilier Triestina - Selle Italia rider Filippo Pozzato briefly attacked with four kilometres to go, only to drop back into the peloton almost immediately.
Bennett then looked to have made a decisive move inside the final kilometre, yet Gaviria again showcased his sprinting prowess with a stunning late burst.
GOOD DAY / BAD DAY
Gaviria obviously enjoyed himself yet again, but Dumoulin will surely have welcomed a stress-free stage in which he was never likely to see his lead come under threat.
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas withdrew from the race ahead of Friday's stage, having been hurt in a heavy crash last weekend.
Stefano Pirazzi and Nicola Ruffoni, meanwhile, face the sack from Bardiani-CSF. The Italian duo were withdrawn by their team on the eve of the tour after providing adverse analytical findings and Bardiani confirmed on Friday that their B samples had come back positive.
1. Fernando Gaviria? (Quick-Step Floors) 3:47:45
2. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe)
3. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)
4. Roberto Ferrari (UAE Team Emirates)
5. Ryan Gibbons (Team Dimension Data)
1. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) 56:28.53
2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +2:23
3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +2:38
4. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +2:40
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +2:47
1. Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) 315
2. Jasper Stuyven (Trek Segafredo) 192
3. Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) 144
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
1. Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) 49
2. Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) 46
3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 35
UP NEXT ...
Saturday's 14th stage - from Castellania to Oropa - is predominantly flat, but finishes with a gruelling climb.