On a day where the parcours took center stage away from the riders, a waterlogged, mud-strewn Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) would cross the line in Montalcino first to lay claim to the 222km Stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia.
The inclusion of the Tuscan region's famed strade bianche, graveled roads, along the day's route not only conjured up past heroics by Italian legends such as Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali, but ensured that the stage would be an epic one well before a single rider set wheel to pavement. But with the skies above opening up like a broken spigot, the stage ended up being historic.
It was with little wonder that Evans, a former multiple World Champion mountain biker, would take to the wet and muddy conditions the best, but his efforts were surprisingly matched equally all day by Il Piccolo Principe, Damiano Cunego, who ended up in second on the day, and Astana's Alexandre Vinokourov, who rounded out the podium.
Results - Stage 7
1. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
2. Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
But perhaps the biggest story of the day was the major reshuffling of the General Classification leaderboard. With his aggressive riding and third place finish, Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) took over the General Classification lead with Evans now sitting in second, 1:12 arrears, and David Millar (Garmin-Transitions) at 1:29 back.
Because of his past offenses, the Kazakh rider still has a great deal of penance to conduct, but his unabashed riding style has certainly recaptured a great many hearts and minds.
General Classification - After Stage 7
1. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
2. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team
3. David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Transitions
4. Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
6. Marco Pinotti (Ita) Team HTC - Columbia
7. Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram
8. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
9. Thomas Rohregger (Aut) Team Milram
10. Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
Jersey Leaders - After Stage 7
maglia rosa - Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana
maglia ciclamino - Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Transitions
maglia verde - Matthew Lloyd (Aus) Omega Pharma-Lotto
maglia bianca - Richie Porte (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
Next: Stage 8 - Chianciano to Monte Terminillo (189 km)