Bob Jungels (Etixx-Quick Step) held on to his lead of the Giro d’Italia after putting in an impressive ride along with second place Andrey Amador (Movistar) to breakaway and put time into the other GC favourites on a tricky finish to stage 11.
Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) took his second stage win of this Giro after managing to bridge across to the pair and out-sprinting them for the line in Asolo.
On a more-or-less pan flat 227km stage, the best action was contained within the final 20km, where one category four climb followed by two smaller uncategorised climbs featured en route to the finish.
Though it looked like it could make for a reduced bunch sprint for those fast men that could make it over the climbs, the GC contenders had other ideas, with Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) the first to make a move on the climb of Forcella Mostaccin.
His rivals quickly followed, and it was Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) who reached out next, putting a gap between him and the group on the fast descent, with on Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) able to follow.
It wasn’t long before they were pulled back though, with Valverde’s teammate Amador following up ahead of the next climb with an attack of his own with around 12km to go.
Sitting second place at just 26 seconds in GC, the Costa Rican’s attack forced race leader Jungels to follow, and the pair began to work together to pull a 15 second gap between them and their rivals.
Who impressed the most in the first half of the Giro d’Italia?
That soon came down to 10 seconds on the final, short climb of the day just 5km from the finish allowing Ulissi to make his own attack and bridge over to the pair out front.
Luxembourg champion Jungels then worked hard on the front to make sure the three reached the finish with as much time as possible, appearing to concede that there was little chance of beating Ulissi in a sprint finish.
The trio eventually finished 13 seconds ahead of the chasing pack, with the Italian rider from Lampre holding his sprint with Amador just behind and Jungels in third.
That meant Ulissi took the 10 second time bonus, with Amador gaining two seconds on Jungels thanks to time bonuses of six and four seconds on the line.
The Movistar man continues to sit second at 24 seconds, with teammate Valverde still in third, slipping slightly to 1-07 behind.
A huge crash at 35km to go meant Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) lost out the most among the GC contenders, getting caught behind the chaos and having to chase on as the pace ramped up ahead. The Italian eventually rolled in 1-30 down, damaging his overall hopes as fell to more than four minutes behind Jungels.
Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin), who was no longer in with a chance of taking the Giro title, called it a day mid-way through the stage with severe saddle sores.
Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM Cycling), Anton Vorobyev (Katusha), Liam Bertazzo (Wilier Triestina-Southeast) made up the day’s breakaway after a frantic start, which saw many riders try to get away, and at one point they held over 10 minutes advantage.
But that quickly diminished after the peloton past through one of the route’s feed zones, with the likes of Ulissi’s Lampre-Merida team working hard to bring them back by the major climb of the day to set their leader up for the win.
Thursday’s stage 12 sees the riders take on an extraordinarily flat 168km course, that will surely see the sprinters get an opportunity after a number of difficult stages.
Giro d’Italia 2016 stage 11, Modena – Asolo (227km)
1. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, in 4-56-32
2. Andrey Amador (CRC) Movistar
3. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx-Quick Step, all same time
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 13s
5. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
6. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx-Quick Step
7. Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo
9. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
10. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, all same time
Overall classification after stage 11
1. Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx-Quick Step, in 45-16-20
2. Andrey Amador (CRC) Movistar, at 24s
3. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 1-07
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, st
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana, at 1-09
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff, at 2-01
7. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha, at 2-25
8. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge, at 2-43
9. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx-Quick Step, at 2-45
10. Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, at 2-47