Narni Scalio - Slovakian specialist Peter Sagan won the third stage of the weeklong Tirreno-Adriatico in a sprint on Friday, showing off his finishing power in a rainy leg that drained other contenders.
Mark Cavendish retained the overall lead by finishing second, although the British standout didn't look like he had the energy to push at full power when it counted.
Andre Greipel of Germany crossed third.
Sagan clocked 5 hours, 15 minutes, 12 seconds over the rolling 190-kilometer leg. Cavendish and Greipel had the same time.
Stage four on Saturday is a 173-kilometer route from Narni to Prati di Tivo, featuring a difficult uphill finish which should see Alberto Contador and the other overall contenders shine.
The week-long race ends on Tuesday with an individual time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto.
Results from the third stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, a 190km ride from Indicatore to Narni on Friday:
1. Peter Sagan (SVK) Cannondale 5hr 15min 12sec, 2. Mark Cavendish (GBR) Omega same time, 3. Andre Greipel (GER) Lotto s.t., 4. Gerald Ciolek (GER) MTN s.t., 5. Matthew Goss (AUS) Orica-GreenEdge s.t., 6. Davide Cimolai (ITA) Lampre s.t., 7. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin s.t., 8. Thor Hushovd (NOR) BMC s.t., 9. Manuel Belletti (ITA) AG2R s.t., 10. Simon Geschke (GER) Team Argos s.t.
1. Mark Cavendish (GBR) Omega 11:23:08, 2. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) Omega 7, 3. Niki Terpstra (NED) Omega 9, 4. Tony Martin (GER) Omega 5. Zdenek Stybar (CZE) Omega s.t., 6. Peter Sagan (SVK) Cannondale 18, 7. Alex Dowsett (GBR) Movistar 20, 8. Giovanni Visconti (ITA) Movistar s.t. 9. Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (ESP) Movistar s.t. 10. Juan Jose Cobo (ESP) Movistar s.t.