Viviani sprints to success to secure Giro hat-trick
After a subdued showing on Thursday, Elia Viviani looked back to his best as he eased to victory on stage 13 of the Giro d'Italia.
Elia Viviani secured his third stage win of the 2018 Giro d'Italia as overall leader Simon Yates comfortably retained the pink jersey on Friday.
Having surprisingly struggled on stage 12 the previous day, Viviani looked back to his best as he dominated a bunch sprint at the end of the 180-kilometre ride from Ferrara to Nervesa della Battaglia.
Sam Bennett - who had won on Thursday in Imola - produced a late burst to snatch second place, with Danny van Poppel of LottoNL-Jumbo taking third.
Yet no rival could catch up with the revitalised Viviani in the closing metres, as the Quick-Step Floors rider finally added to his back-to-back victories in Israel at the start of the race.
In completing a personal hat-trick, the 29-year-old becomes the first Italian to win three Giro stages in the same year since Daniele Bennati a decade ago.
Yates, meanwhile, was content to come home safely in the pack, the Mitchelton-Scott rider maintaining his 47-second cushion over defending champion Tom Dumoulin ahead of Saturday's pivotal climb up Monte Zoncolan.
Irishman Bennett had closed the gap on Viviani in the points classification on Thursday, overcoming both the rest of the field and also bad weather to prevail. However, the leader in the battle to win the maglia ciclamino bounced back from a subdued ride in style.
Marco Coledan threatened to cause a surprise when he launched a solo attack, only to be reeled in as Quick-Step Floors and Bora-Hansgrohe worked hard to put their prime candidates in position to sprint for the line.
With Bennett caught up in traffic, Viviani attacked early and stayed clear, giving him a 40-point cushion as the Giro riders prepare for a gruelling weekend in the mountains.
"After a few difficult days, this is what I needed. The team needed it too, because they worked hard today," the 29-year-old said to Eurosport. "Yesterday was a bad day. But we are really determined to keep this jersey to Rome after a beautiful start."
King of the Mountains
After a pair of stages set up for the sprinters, the Giro gets serious on Saturday. Stage 14 lasts 186km but is all about a succession of climbs, culminating in a tough trip up Monte Zoncolan that could turn contenders into pretenders.