However, the GC battle also burst into life for the briefest of moments when Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) contested an intermediate sprint inside the final 18km of the stage with the Belgian taking two seconds and the maglia rosa claiming one after Jhonatan Narvaez out-sprinted both riders to ensure that Bernal only lost one solitary second in the overall standing.
The result meant that Evenepoel closed the gap Bernal in the overall standings to 14 seconds ahead of Tuesday's first rest-day, while both riders edged further ahead of Aleksandr Vlasov, who remains in third overall - now 21 seconds off Bernal's lead.
"I was just following Pippo [Filippo Ganna]," Bernal claimed. "I saw an opportunity and I just went behind him. Finally, if you're going behind him it's easier. I take one second but I didn't do any effort, so why not?
"We are here also to enjoy the race and we are doing that."
By the time the intermediate sprint took place at Campello sul Clituno most of the sprinters in the race had been shelled out by Sagan and his teammates. They had set a furious pace on the earlier climbs with Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) and Giacomo Nizzolo (Team Qhubeka ASSOS) among the early casualties.
"It was actually really hard, Bora did a great job into the climb, they did a really hard pace. I think everyone was full gas. It was harder than we expected in the morning," Bernal said.
As the peloton raced towards the intermediate sprint it was Deceuninck that took over on the front but Filippo Ganna brought Bernal back into contention and it looked for the briefest of moments as though both riders would take the 3 and 2 seconds on offer.
However, Evenepoel's team brought the pair back with the line in view. Suddenly, Narvaez kicked free and he had enough speed to deny Evenepoel the top spot with Bernal crossing the line in third.
The Giro d'Italia has only reached its first rest day and the most demanding terrain is still to be featured in weeks two and three but the top-two contenders at this point in the race show no signs of sitting back and waiting for the race to come to them - even on the sprint stages.
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