Tour de Romandie winner Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) soloed to victory after attacking from the break on stage 11 of the Giro d’Italia.
Zakarin burst clear of a strong breakaway group on the penultimate lap of the finishing circuit, and held on to win on the Imola circuit.
Race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), second-placed Fabio Aru (Astana) and Richie Porte (Team Sky), who fell down the overall rankings on stage ten, all finished in the same time in the peloton, meanwhile, despite a late attack from the Tinkoff-Saxo man.
They were still all together when they hit the first intermediate sprint, which Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek Factory Racing) won ahead of Elia Viviani (Team Sky) – the latter having lost the red jersey to Bardiani-CSF’s stage ten winner Nicola Boem.
It took until the day’s first climb, the Passo del Trebbio, for riders to finally go clear – Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Benat Intxausti (Movistar) among those earning more breakaway time.
Diego Rosa (Astana) got up the road for Fabio Aru’s team, with Tour de Romandie winner Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) also in the original quartet.
Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) was one of seven to bridge across too, with Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) and Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) also in the move.
On wet roads Betancur and Luca Paolini (Katusha), in the bunch, were among those to hit the deck, while BMC Racing lent firepower to the chase and caused splits in the peloton.
Rigoberto Uran (Etixx-QuickStep) was momentarily caught out and a large grupetto formed as a result of the American team’s efforts.
The break split up too, with four men losing contact and Rosa and Kruijswijk having to chase hard to get back on.
Zakarin attacked solo on the category-four Tre Monti climb, taking the bell solo as the rain worsened.
Uran suffered further in the rain, crashing in the peloton after a touch of wheels with 15km still to ride and drafting the team cars as he battled his way back to the peloton.
Zakarin had put a minute into his former companions with ten kilometres remaining, with the peloton a further 28 seconds down.
And the Russian could not be brought back in the rain, increasing his advantage as he crested the final climb and pushing on to claim his first career Grand Tour stage win.
Further back, Contador attacked on the climb and briefly dropped his rivals but all three men finished together in Imola.
Giro d’Italia 2015: stage 11 – result
1) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha – 3.55.08hrs
2) Carlos Betancur (COL) –Ag2r-La Mondiale +53”
3) Franco Pellizotti (ITA) – Androni Giacottolo-Sidermec – ST
4) Benat Intxausti (ESP) – Movistar
5) Diego Rosa (ITA) – Astana
6) Steen Kruijswijk (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo
7) Ryder Hsjedal (CAN) – Cannondale-Garmin
8) Maciej Paterski (POL) – CCC Sprandi Polkowice +58”
9) Philippe Gilbert (BEL) – BMC Racing – ST
10) Juan Jose Lobato (ESP) – Movistar +1.02
1) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff-Saxo 46.54.19hrs
2) Fabio Aru (ITA) – Astana +3”
3) Mikel Landa (ESP) – Asana +46”
4) Dario Cataldo (ITA) – Astana +1.16
5) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) – Tinkoff-Saxo +1.46
6) Rigberto Uran (COL) –Etixx-QuickStep +2.10
7) Giovanni Visconti (ITA) – Movistar +2.12
8) Damiano Caruso (ITA) – BMC Racing +2.20
9) Andrey Amador (CRC) – Movistar +2.24
10) Leopold Konig (CZE) – Team Sky +2.30