Bennett edges out Viviani to seal maiden Grand Tour stage win
Sam Bennett triumphed in a thrilling finish to stage seven of the Giro d'Italia as the Irishman enjoyed a landmark win.
The Bora-Hansgrohe rider edged past home favourite Elia Viviani to prevail in a bunch sprint for the line at the end of the 159-kilometre leg from Pizzo to Praia a Mare.
It was his maiden stage victory at a Grand Tour, while Simon Yates kept hold of the overall lead for Mitchelton-Scott after finishing safely in the group.
Viviani had the consolation of adding to his tally in the points classification, the Quick-Step Floors rider having been followed over the finish line by compatriot Niccolo Bonifazio.
Team Sky's Chris Froome, chasing cycling's triple crown, was also among the bunch along with reigning champion Tom Dumoulin. Froome sits eighth, with Dumoulin second.
SPRINT FINISH PROVIDES THE THRILLS
For much of the day, the most eye-catching thing on display was the scenery of the Sicilian coast.
As the peloton went along at a steady pace, it became increasingly apparent that the story of this stage would unfold at the very end.
And so it proved, with a thrilling bunch finish kick-started by Sacha Modolo's move on the left of the group with a few hundred metres left.
He was overhauled by Viviani, who appeared to have timed his burst to perfection, only for Bennett to catapult out from behind the wheel of Quick-Step Floors rider and claim victory by the narrowest of margins.
"The first few stages I had the power, knew what I was capable of - it's another thing being able to do it," Bennett, the first Irishman to win a stage of the Giro since Stephen Roche in 1987, told Eurosport.
"The hardest thing was to have the patience. I was glad I kept my cool and it paid off."
1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 3:45.27
2. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors)
3. Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida)
4. Sacha Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac)
5. Danny van Poppel (Team Lottlo NL Jumbo)
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 26:31.30
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) +16
3. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) +26
1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) 178
2. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 100
3. Sacha Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac) 73
King of the Mountains
1. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) 35
2. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 18
3. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) 12
The riders will head from Praia a Mare to Montevergine di Mercogliano on Saturday, a 209km route that includes a long closing climb with an average gradient of around six per cent.