Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) sprinted to victory on stage six of the Giro d’Italia after a perfect lead-out.
The Gorilla finished off a fine lead-out from team-mate Greg Henderson to claim the 13th Grand Tour victory of his career.
Race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), meanwhile, suffered a late crash, but finished the stage to keep the maglia rosa.
Marek Rutkiewicz (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) and Eduard Grosu (Nippo-Vini Fantini) were the first two riders to get up the road early on, before three bridged across – Marco Bandiera (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Alesandro Malaguti (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Alan Marangoni (Cannondale-Garmin).
After the excitement of the previous stages, it was a much more sedate day with Tinkoff-Saxo’s chase assisted by the sprint teams, including ‘Breakaway Killer’ Cheng Ji (Giant-Alpecin).
A brief flurry of activity when Viviani sprinted off the front to claim some points at the intermediate sprint was the only major disruption to the otherwise well-organised chase.
As the winds whipped up, however, that soon changed as teams hit the front to counter the crosswinds – Tinkoff-Saxo upping the ante, though not to the extent of putting too much hurt on.
Riders were still shelled out the back, however, while the gap to the leaders tumbled significantly – their lead wiped out with 15km still to race.
The sprint trains began to form, with Astana, Tinkoff-Saxo and Team Sky also looking after their respective GC men as Bernie Eisel led the peloton under the 3km to go banner.
The safety of the final three kilometres prompted the GC men to swing off, with Lotto-Soudal taking charge of the peloton.
Viviani was boxed in during the sprint, with Greg Henderson leading Greipel out to perfection in his absence.
The Gorilla took up the sprint early and was much too powerful for his rivals as he celebrated his first victory of this year’s race.
A crash just behind, which saw Daniele Colli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) take a bad tumble near the barriers, brought Contador down but the Spaniard appeared to have suffered no lasting damage as he crossed the finishing line.
Nevertheless, the Spaniard requested not to pull on the pink jersey or open the celebratory champagne on the podium as a result of his injuries, and it remains to be seen to what extent he has suffered.
Giro d’Italia 2015: stage six – result
1) Andre Greipel (GER) – Lotto-Soudal – 4.19.42hrs
2) Matteo Pelucchi (ITA) – IAM Cycling – ST
3) Sacha Modolo (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
4) Manuel Belletti (ITA) Southeast
5) Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA) – Trek Factory Racing
6) Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) – Southeast
7) Elia Viviani (ITA) – Team Sky
8) Luka Mezgec (SVN) – Giant-Alpecn
9) Nicola Ruffoni (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF
10) Davide Appollonio (ITA) – Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
1) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo – 20.25.43hrs
2) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Atstana +2”
3) Richie Porte (AUS) – Team Sky +20”
4) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Tinkoff-Saxo +22″
5) Dario Cataldo (ITA) – Astana +28″
6) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-GreenEDGE +37″
7) Giovanni Visconti (ITA) – Movistar +56″
8) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Astana +1.01
9) Davide Formolo (ITA) – Cannondale-Garmin +1.15
10) Andrey Amador (CRC) – Movistar +1.18