Veteran Andre Greipel won the seventh stage of the Giro d’Italia on Friday to make it three successive stage victories for his Lotto Soudal team.
It also makes the 33-year-old the most successful German rider in the history of the race, with five stage wins.
Greipel delivered a well-timed sprint to finish ahead of Italians Giacomo Nizzolo and Sacha Modolo in the 211km race between Sulmona and Foligno.
Dutchman Tom Dumoulin of the Giant team retains the race leaders’ pink jersey.
Dumoulin finished safely in the peloton as the sprinters hit the front of the race in the closing kilometre.
Australian Caleb Ewan headed the race as his Orica-GreenEdge made a late charge for victory, but Greipel pulled clear with around 50 metres remaining.
“If we were playing football we’d say we’ve scored a hat-trick,” said Greipel, who also won stage five, while his team-mate Tim Wellens won Thursday’s mountain-top finish.
Etixx rider Marcel Kittel was looking for a third stage win in this 99th edition of the Giro, but suffered a puncture five kilometres from the finish.
Stage seven result:
1. Andre Greipel (Ger/Lotto) 5hrs 01min 08secs
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita/Trek-Segafredo) same time
3. Sacha Modolo (Ita/Lampre-Merida)
4. Caleb Ewan (Aus/Orica-GreenEdge)
5 Enrico Battaglin (Ita/Lotto)
1. Tom Dumoulin (Ned/Giant) 29hrs 23mins 23secs
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den/Astana) +26secs
3. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus/Katusha) +28secs
4. Bob Jungels (Lux/Etixx-Quick-Step) +35secs
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/Lotto) +38secs