Assisi - Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez of the Katusha team took ownership of the leader's pink jersey after winning the 10th stage of the Giro d'Italia on Tuesday.
The Catalan, a noted climber, finished two seconds ahead of Poland's Bartsz Huzarski and Italian champion Giovanni Visconti at the end of the 186km ride from Civitavecchia to Assisi, which featured two short climbs in the closing 3 500m.
Italian Domenico Pozzovivo took fourth place at 6sec, just ahead of Frenchman John Gadret and Canadian former leader Ryder Hesjedal.
Winner of the Fleche-Wallonne in April, Rodriguez showed all his explosive climbing abilities, leaving it until late on around the narrow streets of Assisi to reel in Dutchman Tom-Jelle Slagter to ensure his first Giro stage victory.
For the 33-year-old Rodriguez, it is the first time he has worn the leader's jersey and he is a full 17sec ahead of Hesjedal, with Italian Paolo Tiralongo third at 32sec.
An early five-man breakaway built up a five-minute lead on the main peloton, but Hesjedal and his team reeled them back in 6.5km from the finish.
Italy's Filippo Pozzato, who fractured his right wrist while causing a crash at the end of the ninth stage, did not start on Tuesday.
Pozzato collided with Australian ace Matt Goss on Monday, bringing both men down and forcing British sprint specialist Mark Cavendish to take evasive action but without apparently injuring himself.
Pozzato, the leader of the Farnese Vini team, later apologised for causing the crash.
Wednesday's 11th stage sees riders tackle a 255km run from Assisi to Montecatini Terme, in Tuscany, on largely flat terrain with two climbs, the second coming 11km from the finish line.
Result of the 10th stage of the Giro d'Italia, a 186km ride from Civitavecchia to Assisi on Tuesday:1. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 4hr 25min 05sec, 2. Bartosz Huzarski (POL/APP) at 02sec, 3. Giovanni Visconti (ITA/MOV) 02, 4. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/COG) 06, 5. John Gadret (FRA/ALM) 06, 6. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) 06, 7. Tom-Jelte Slagter (NED/RAB) 06, 8. Dario Cataldo (ITA/OPQ) 06, 9. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) 06, 10. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) 06
Selected: 15. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 06, 17. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 06, 31. Frank Schleck (LUX/RSH) 26
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 40hr 27min 34sec, 2. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) at 0:17, 3. Paolo Tiralongo (ITA/AST) 0:32, 4. Roman Kreuziger (CZE/AST) 0:52, 5. Benat Intxausti (ESP/MOV) 0:52, 6. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 0:57, 7. Damiano Caruso (ITA/LIQ) 1min 02sec, 8. Dario Cataldo (ITA/OPQ) 1:03, 9. Eros Capecchi (ITA/LIQ) 1:09, 10. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) 1:10, 11. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 1:11, 12. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/COG) 1:12