Nizzolo had to overcome a late attack from Eduardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) with 700 metres to go, but latched onto Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), jumped over to Affini's slipstream and then past him to the first Giro d'Italia win for the 32-year-old.
“Probably having someone to chase down like that helped me," said Nizzolo after the stage. "But there wasn’t any particular pressure on me, it was the same pressure as usual.”
“My strategy was, above all, not to get closed in, even at the risk of going early and getting too exposed to the wind. Normally I prefer technical sprints, but this time I followed Fernando Gaviria, then jumped across to Affini, who’d launched an incredible attack."
Nizzolo hadn't been too desperate to break his drought, he was still making the occasional comment about the time he was relegated from the race win on the final stage of the 2016 Giro d'Italia, but he maintained an enthusiastic countenance throughout his run of near misses.
“I always knew I had the potential,” said Nizzolo. "Watching the sprint takes me back to the moment and it is such an emotional feeling. The only thing I wanted to do today was to be able to sprint, without being blocked, and just show to myself what power I had in my legs and that’s what I did.
“But it’s not so simple, a small mistake can cost you a lot and of course I’ve made mistakes like everybody else. Today I took the risk of losing again, by going from far out, and that’s what gave me the win.”
Nizzolo celebrated with his fan club after the stage, a travelling bunch of relatives and friends that have been following the Italian in his home race.
“They’ve been there all the way, backing me, and that’s been a real reference point for me,” Nizzolo said.
“They’re mostly friends and family, although my Dad couldn’t be here today, because he’s in hospital having an operation. Nothing serious, fortunately, and I hope he enjoyed seeing what happened in the Giro today.”
The stages for sprinters are starting to dry up, 15 and 18 look like potential opportunities for the fast men, but the rest are mountain stages before the concluding time trial in Milan. Nizzolo sits second in the battle for the maglia ciclamino, the points jersey, 9 points behind Sagan.
The Team Qhubeka-ASSOS rider wasn't thinking about the challenges ahead, rather basking in the current swell of emotion around his win.
"I am super happy and just want to enjoy this moment," said Nizzolo. "The first person I called was my mother, it was special, and to my dad who couldn’t be here today as he had surgery a few days ago, this was for him.
"I felt so much confidence from the team today, they were always around me, not only today but throughout the week. So I am really happy to give them this victory as it is not only mine but for the whole team, for the purpose we race for, bicycles change lives. After Mauro’s victory two days ago, you can be sure there will be another big “Ubuntu” celebration tonight."
The Giro d'Italia continues with Stage 14, a 205-kilometre stage that starts in Cittadella and finishes on the infamous slops of the Monte Zoncolan. Watch all the action from the feared climb with Matt Keenan and Robbie McEwen in commentary from 1920 AEST on SBS OnDemand and 2120 on SBS VICELAND.