BENAT INTXAUSTI of Spain won the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia yesterday, and favorite Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall lead as the race entered the final week.
Intxausti won in a time of five hours, 52 minutes, 48 seconds, along the hilly 238 kilometers (148 miles) from Valloire, France, to Ivrea beating Tanel Kangert and Przemyslaw Niemiec in a final sprint.
Nibali, who finished third and second in his last two Giro d'Italia races, maintained his lead of one minute, 26 seconds over Cadel Evans and remains firmly on course to win his country's biggest cycling race for the first time.
Mauro Santambrogio started the day fourth but lost more than two minutes to slip to sixth. Taylor Phinney was forced to retire midway through the stage due to saddle sores. The American had hoped for a stage win, while also working for team leader Evans.
Intxausti, who briefly wore the leader's pink jersey in the race, moved up to ninth. "I can really say I enjoyed it," Intxausti said. "It seemed like the least appropriate day for me because the breakaway group looked like it was going to make it to the finish, and that makes it even more beautiful and special. The main favorites looked to each other on the downhill, and I took advantage of that to escape."
CARRICK-ON-SUIR'S Sam Bennett won a thrilling bunch sprint into Listowel to claim two consecutive stage wins for the An Post Chain Reaction Seán Kelly team in the An Post Rás yesterday.
Morten Oellegaard (Denmark Blue Water Cycling) took second place with Poland's Marcin Bialoblocki (Britain UK Youth Pro Cycling) finishing in third.
Bialoblocki's second top-three finish in consecutive days earns him the yellow jersey and puts him top of the general classification going into stage four.
Yesterday's 141km stage from Nenagh into Listowel was hillier than the previous two days, with two category three climbs.