Porto Recanati - Filippo Pozzato became the first Italian rider to win a non-team stage on this year's Giro d'Italia on Thursday as the sun finally shone and tempers boiled over.
The Team Katusha rider, the Italian national champion, just edged out Thomas Voeckler in a thrilling sprint finish on stage 12 with Australian Richie Porte hanging on to the leader's pink jersey for Saxo Bank.
Driving rain on Wednesday led to a huge turnaround in the overall placings with Porte taking charge and previous leader Alexander Vinokourov sliding down the standings after being caught in a slow group as the weather-beaten peloton split.
World champion Cadel Evans, who had been second overall, was also punished by Wednesday's events and his frustration was plain to see on the 206km uncomplicated stage from Citta Sant'Angelo to Porto Recanati on central Italy's east coast.
The BMC rider argued with other riders about the lack of pace at the front of the pack late on and gesticulated wildly.
The stage lead had changed hands numerous times amid an array of breakouts but the main block of riders was never far behind.
However, an exciting climax did ensue with Pozzato timing his burst just right having already had a good look at the finish during an earlier loop through Porto Recanati.
"I'm very happy, it's what we needed. We had to have a stage like this after yesterday," Pozzato told reporters.
"The last week will be spectacular and it won't be over till it's over."
Unheralded Porte's overall lead from Spain's David Arroyo is one minute 42 seconds.
A raft of riders quit the race after Wednesday's extremely tough outing, one of a number of demanding and wet stages already this year, but the pain is not over yet with two big mountain tests due this weekend.
Friday's 13th stage is a 223 km trip from Porto Recanati to Cesenatico.
The three-week race ends in Verona on May 30.
Stage Twelve Results:
1. Filippo Pozzato (ITA/KAT) 5hr 15min 50sec
2. Thomas Voeckler (FRA/BTL) at 0:00s
3. Jerome Pineau (FRA/QST) 0:00.
4. Stefano Garzelli (ITA/ASA) 0:00.
5. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ/AST) 0:00.
6. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) 0:00.
7. Marco Pinotti (ITA/THR) 0:00.
8. Michele Scarponi (ITA/AND) 0:00.
9. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 0:00.
10. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 0:00.
11. Robbie McEwen (AUS/KAT) 0:10.
12. Manuel Belletti (ITA/CSF) 0:10.
13. Andre Greipel (GER/THR) 0:10.
14. Leonardo Duque (COL/COF) 0:10.
15. William Bonnet (FRA/BTL) 0:10.
16. Greg Henderson (NZL/SKY) 0:10.
17. Sebastien Hinault (FRA/ALM) 0:10.
18. Michiel Elijzen (NED/OLO) 0:10.
19. Tyler Farrar (USA/GRM) 0:10.
20. Danilo Hondo (GER/LAM) 0:10.
25. Richie Porte (AUS/SAX) 0:10.
29. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 0:10.
52. Carlos Sastre (ESP/CTT) 0:10.
58. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY) 0:10.
60. Svein Tuft (CAN/GRM) 0:21.
71. Michael Barry (CAN/SKY) 0:24.
107. David Millar (GBR/GRM) 0:36.
169. Cameron Meyer (AUS/GRM) 10:52.
1. Richie Porte (AUS/SAX) 50hr 46min 16sec
2. David Arroyo (ESP/GCE) at 1:42.
3. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/LIQ) 1:56.
4. Xavier Tondo (ESP/CTT) 3:54.
5. Valerio Agnoli (ITA/LIQ) 4:41.
6. Alexander Efimkin (RUS/ALM) 5:16.
7. Linus Gerdemann (GER/MRM) 5:34.
8. Carlos Sastre (ESP/CTT) 7:09.
9. Laurent Didier (LUX/SAX) 7:24.
10. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY) 8:14.
11. Jan Bakelants (BEL/OLO) 8:35.
12. Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ/AST) 9:48.
13. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 11:10.
14. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) 11:18.
15. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 11:39.
16. Marco Pinotti (ITA/THR) 12:05.
17. Francis de Greef (BEL/OLO) 12:21.
18. Stefano Garzelli (ITA/ASA) 12:32.
19. Vladimir Karpets (RUS/KAT) 12:32.
20. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 12:53.
21. Michele Scarponi (ITA/AND) 12:54.
28. David Millar (GBR/GRM) 19:14.
35. Michael Barry (CAN/SKY) 33:43.
39. Filippo Pozzato (ITA/KAT) 37:40.
144. Svein Tuft (CAN/GRM) 1h54:36.
169. Jack Bobridge (AUS/GRM) 2h34:07.