Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) extended his red jersey lead by sprinting to stage ten victory – his third success of the 2014 Giro d’Italia.
The Frenchman outsprinted Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEDGE) to earn victory, though several of his rivals missed out after a big crash.
Inside the technical final kilometre, Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) crashed near the front of the bunch, bringing down several riders behind him in the process.
Elia Viviani (Cannondale) was one rider brought down, while Ben Swift (Team Sky) – whose team-mates had put in a huge shift on the front – lost his momentum.
Having been seen as a favourite for the stage however, it will be of little concern to Bouhanni, who once again sent a message to his FDJ.fr bosses as he bids to convince them he should lead the French team at the Tour de France.
With no intermediate climbs en route, and the focus of the sprinters on winning the stage rather than collecting maximum bonus sprint points, the WorldTour teams were happy to stay out of the day’s break.
Breakaway regulars Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) and Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli) were the two riders to go up the road early in the stage, with the duo working to build a lead of 8’35” before the peloton organised the chase.
The sprint teams were all happy to take their turns on the front of the bunch to ensure there was no chance of the escapees staying out – a good pace being set throughout the stage.
At the intermediate sprint, Elia Viviani’s Cannondale team-mates gave a statement of their intent – the Italian being led out perfectly to claim three points as Bouhanni missed out.
It may have been a warning shot for FDJ.fr, who had looked in control as the sprint approached but surrendered it on a technical section just shy of the sprint.
The pace preceding the sprint cut the two leaders’ gap but Bandiera and Fedi were allowed a bit more freedom as a strung out bunch eased into feed zone.
BMC Racing, with maglia rosa Cadel Evans in tow also kept riders near the front of the bunch, with Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Trek Factory Racing massing too.
The majority of the work was left to FDJ.fr however, with the two escapees still leading by four minutes as they approached the final 26 kilometres.
Both Giant-Shimano and Orica-GreenEDGE brought riders forward however, and with the bunch upping the pace the gap tumbled rapidly.
As the pace went up Yannick Eijssen (BMC Racing) took a tumble towards the back of the bunch, with Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff-Saxo) also hitting the deck.
The BMC man looked in some pain as he stayed down however, receiving treatment on the roadside before leaving an ambulance – leaving maglia rosa Evans a man light for the rest of this year’s race.
With no shortage of road furniture in the final 15 kilometres, the bunch was spread out with all of the fast men’s sprint trains at the front but the lead of the two escapees – who by now appeared resigned to their fate – fell to less than 30 seconds.
Team Sky were among the teams on the front of the bunch as Bandiera and Fedi were caught, setting a fast pace on the front of the bunch in a bid to drop the other sprinters.
Dario Cataldo and Edvald Boasson Hagen both put in huge shifts at the front to keep the pace high and cause splits in the bunch behind, but their chief sprinting rivals were all back in the leading group for the final kilometre.
The technical final kilometre put paid to many of the fast men’s chances however, Farrar falling with just 700 metres to go.
Though it will not affect the GC men, given it occurred within the final three kilometres, there was no shortage of riders caught up in the carnage.
Cadel Evans remained upright, as did Swift but the Yorkshireman, who was just behind Farrar, lost some of his momentum – with the efforts to stay on Cataldo and Boasson Hagen’s wheel proving costly.
Nizzolo led out the final sprint, dragging Bouhanni and Matthews out with him, but it was the Frenchman who won the stage – his third victory in this year’s Giro.
Giro d’Italia 2014: stage ten – result
1) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) –FDJ.fr – 4.01.13hrs
2) Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Trek Factory Racing – ST
3) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Orica-GreenEDGE
4) Roberto Ferrari (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
5) Enrico Battaglin (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF
6) Vladimir Gusev (RUS) – Katusha
7) Albert Timmer (NED) – Giant-Shimano
8) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky
9) Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing
General classification (provisional)
1) Cadel Evans (AUS) – BMC Racing – 42.50.47hrs
2) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Omega Pharma-Quickstep +57”
3) Rafal Majka (POL) – Tinkoff-Saxo +1.10
4) Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +1.20
5) Steve Morabito (SUI) – BMC Racing +1.31
6) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana – +1.39
7) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – Lampre-Merida +1.43
8) Wilco Kelderman (NED) – Belkin Pro Cycling +1.44
9) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +1.45
10) Robert Kiserlovski (CRO) – Trek Factory Racing +1.49