TURIN, Italy (Reuters) -European champion Giacomo Nizzolo won his maiden Giro d’Italia stage on Friday when the Qhubeka Assos rider clinched victory with a fine sprint to the finish on stage 13, a 198-kilometre ride from Ravenna to Verona.
Italian Nizzolo, who topped the points classification in 2015 and 2016 without a single stage win, beat Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) and Slovakia’s Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) who came second and third, respectively.
Affini seemed the likely winner in the final 300 metres but Nizzolo did well to chase him in his slipstream before slingshotting past his compatriot for victory.
“Finally I’ve got a stage victory at the Giro,” Nizzolo, who has 11 second-place finishes on the Giro, said after winning despite opening his sprint early.
“Today I decided to launch a long sprint. I chose to risk staying too long in the wind rather than wait for too long behind other riders with the chance of being blocked. My choice paid off.
“My goal was to be second, maybe that was the trick to get the victory. I’m super happy. The only goal I had today was to sprint and not get blocked in the final so I went quite far in the wind – but I had good legs and it worked out.”
Ineos Grenadiers’ Egan Bernal finished in the peloton to retain the general classification lead and the race leader’s pink jersey.
“Finally we had an easy day,” Bernal said. “It would be special to win atop the Zoncolan tomorrow but that means controlling the whole peloton, so I’d be happy if I just keep the Maglia Rosa.”
Saturday’s stage 14 is a 205-kilometre ride from Cittadella to Monte Zoncolan.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru;Editing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)