Salsomaggiore Terme: Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni sprinted to victory in the 10th stage of the Giro d`Italia on Tuesday after a mainly flat 173km run that finished in Salsomaggiore Terme.
It was a third stage win of this year`s race for the Francaise des Jeux rider, who again held off Italian Giacomo Nizzolo, as during his two previous wins.
Australian Michael Matthews came home third in a mass sprint as his compatriot Cadel Evans retained the overall leader`s pink jersey.
Following Monday`s rest day, the French champion triumphed for the third time in eight days as a mass pile-up with 700m to go played havoc with the peloton racing for home.
"It`s never easy," said Bouhanni, who solidifies his position as points leader and holder of the red jersey.
"It was pretty fast in the final sprint. Nizzolo attacked but I was able to go past him," added the 23-year-old, who equalled compatriot Laurent Jalabert`s haul of three stage wins on the 1999 Giro.
Under sunny skies, Italian duo Andrea Fedi and Marco Bandiera launched an escape in the early stages that was doomed from the outset.
Their maximum lead reached 8min 30secs before the peloton swept them up with 9km to go which set up a mass sprint for the line.
Evans maintains his 57sec lead over Colombian Rigoberto Uran as both riders came home with the pack.
However, the 2011 Tour de France winner lost one of his BMC team-mates when Belgian Yannick Eijssen fell victim to a crash during the last hour of the stage.
BMC later confirmed that Eijssen is out of the race, even if X-rays showed no broken bones.
"We only hear these things on the radio, we don`t know what happens. and I only saw the images on TV after the race at the finish," Evans said of his colleague`s crash.
"To see a neck brace on anyone is scary - they say it`s only a precautionary measure - but of course we miss one team-mate. It`s a big blow as well to us as a team."
Evans will hope to increase his overall lead in Thursday`s 41.9km individual time trial but first he must negotiate Wednesday`s 11th stage, a 249km run from Collecchio, near Parma, to Savona which includes a category two climb before a descent to the finish.