A late attack by Joaquin Rodriguez gave the Katusha veteran a solo win at the end of the 181km sixth stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico.
My only chance was to time my run and attack from further out, because in the bunch there was Peter Sagan and I couldn't compete with him in a sprint.
The 2010 Vuelta a Espana champion finished ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and 2007 Giro d'Italia winner Danilo Di Luca (Acqua & Sapone), both with the same time as Rodriguez.
Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) holds the overall leader's jersey ahead of the final stage on Tuesday when he will take a 5-second lead over Roman Kreuziger (Astana) and 6sec over Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) into a 9.3km time trial.
As all three riders are solid time-triallists and it looks to be a three-way battle to succeed Cadel Evans (BMC) as the race champion.
An early seven-man break which included Carlos Alberto Betancur (Acqua & Sapone), Luis Felipe Laverde (Colombia-Coldeportes), Arthur Vichot (FDJ - BigMat), Andrey Amador and Branislau Samoilau (Movistar), Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma QuickStep) and Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil-DCM) rode out to a gap of five minutes but were unable to build on the advantage.
Betancur, Vichot, Amador and Pauwels broke clear with 20km remaining, but a Katusha led chase pulled them back with 6 kilometres to go on the final of six circuits in Offida. Rodriguez launched his attack with one kilometre to go but Nibali and Di Luca were unable to respond.
"I´m very happy with today's victory," said Rodriguez. "In the last two stages I was a little disappointed, they were good courses for me but I couldn't win, also because my rivals were in a better shape. Instead, today in theory was a better stage for [team mate] Oscar Freire, more suitable to his characteristics, but when I saw he was not ahead I tried to win.
"My only chance was to time my run and attack from further out, because in the bunch there was Peter Sagan and I couldn't compete with him in a sprint. It was an important victory."
Prior to the stage four riders pulled out of the race. Philippe Gilbert (BMC), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), who won a stage on Saturday, and Matt Goss (GreenEDGE) all withdrew citing illness.
GreenEDGE said the move to pull Goss out of the race was a precautionary measure in advance of his Milan-San Remo defence next weekend.
"Matt is going really well, and we don’t want to run any risks before the big one-day races coming up," says Sports Director Matt White. "In pulling him out of the race now, after two really hard days, we’ll still be able to count on him recovering fully for Milano-Sanremo and the other big Classics."
Reigning world champion Mark Cavendish also pulled out during the stage as he looks ahead to challenging Goss at Milan-San Remo.
The best placed Australian is Cameron Meyer (GreenEDGE) who sits in 13th position overall at 1 minute and 43 seconds. Meyer is a strong rider against the clock and is expected to earn a top-ten position on the final classification after the time-trial.
La Gazetta video wrap-up in Italian.