Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) ordered all of his team-mates to drill the pace on the climbs, dropping multiple sprinters before beating Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) and Davide Cimolai (Israel Start-Up Nation) in the sprint.
The race was ripped to bits on the final two climbs with 60km to go as Bora looked to get rid of as many sprinters as possible so that Sagan had the best chance to take the victory.
Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) keeps pink, albeit by one less second than before over Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) at 14 seconds.
How it happened
The 10th of the 2021 Giro d'Italia stage started in the town of L’Aquila before taking on lumpy terrain over the hills of Abruzzo, Lazio and Umbria before finishing in Foligno after 139km.
Five riders went up the road including Simon Pellaud (Androni), Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché), Umberto Marengo (Bardiani), Samuele Rivi (Eolo-Kometa), and Kobe Goossens (Lotto-Soudal). They managed to pull out a maximum gap of three minutes.
The peloton brought the advantage down to two and a half minutes to make sure the day was going to head for a bunch sprint. Unfortunately for the break, a railway crossing meant that they lost a minute to the peloton.
The peloton did not have to wait to give the break back its lead as the peloton did not catch the breakaway at the crossing.
With 50km to go Bora-Hansgrohe came to the front after not doing much work throughout the day and started hammering the pace on the front of the peloton and immediately dropped Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) before getting to the only categorised climb of the day.
Marengo could not hold onto the new high pace in the break and dropped back into the peloton with the four rides up front holding on until the base of the final climb up the Valico della Somma with 43km to go.
The next sprinter to go was one of the big favourites for the stage, Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix), but his team dropped back to support him. David Dekker (Jumbo-Visma) was also dropped but he had team-mate Edoardo Affini with him as Bora continued the pace.
Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos) was just struggling off the back with a kilometre to go on the climb with Elia Viviani (Cofidis) looking like he was struggling too. Meanwhile, at the front Peter Sagan sat with his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates with Gaviria also sat close to the front.
Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos) was riding hard with Nizzolo as the European champion was having to work himself in the final 32km with the duo having to close 28 seconds back to the peloton.
Nizzolo sat up with Campenaerts with 25km to go with the commissaries taking the cars out. Merlier was even further back at almost three minutes. The gap was not closing as Israel Start-Up Nation came up to work hard for Davide Cimolai.
The intermediate sprint for bonus seconds came and it was Deceuninck - Quick-Step who came up for Evenepoel but Ineos Grenadiers were alive to the danger and swamped the Belgian squad.
Bernal followed his team-mate and world time trial champion, Filippo Ganna who upped the pace with Evenepoel desperately trying to close the gap. Bernal’s men also sat on Evenepoel’s wheel with Gianni Moscon and Jhonatan Narváez waiting to kick past.
But when Ganna pulled over Evenepoel continued his effort with Bernal unable to follow. Moscon also couldn’t come round so it was left for Narváez to come through and take the three seconds with Evenepoel taking two and Bernal one after just holding off João Almeida (Deceuninck - Quick-Step).
Afterwards, the race went back to the sprinter teams as Bora-Hansgrohe retook control. Team DSM came up into the final two kilometres and led under the flamme rouge before their sprinter, Max Kanter, crashed.
UAE Team Emirates then took up the pacing with Juan Sebastián Molano opening up the lead out with Sagan quickly jumping onto his wheel into the final bend before opening up a vicious acceleration which held off Gaviria and a fast-finishing Cimolai.
In the overall standings, there is little change with Bernal keeping pink going into the first rest day before heading to the gravel roads of Tuscany for stage 11. Evenepoel now sits 14 seconds down in second with Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) at 22 seconds.
Giro d'Italia 2021, stage 10: L'Aquila to Foligno (139km)
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 3-10-56
2. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
3. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start-Up Nation
4. Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto-Soudal
5. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
6. Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
7. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Ag2r-Citroën Team
8. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) EOLO-Kometa
9. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
10. Juan Sebastián Molano (Col) UAE Team Emirates, all at same time
General classification after stage 10
1. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos Grenadiers, in 38-30-45
2. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 14s
3. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech, at 22s
4. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 37s
5. Attila Valter (Hun) Groupama-FDJ, at 44s
6. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo, at 45s
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious, at 46s
8. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 52s
9. Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange, at 56s
10. Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-02
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