Arnaud Demare took the Giro d'Italia sprinting honours in Brindisi on Friday, his third stage win in four days secured with a record average speed for the race of 51.234 kph.
The French champion, who rides for Groupama-FDJ, ended the 143km seventh stage from Matera by surging clear of Slovakian Peter Sagan and Australian Michael Matthews to retain the points jersey.
Portuguese rider Joao Almeida of Deceuninck retained the overall lead.
Demare's average speed bettered the previous record of 49.429kph set by Italian Andrea Guardini in the 2012 Giro's 18th stage.
The 29-year-old Demare won narrowly on Tuesday in Villafranca Tirrena, then much more comfortably on Thursday in an uphill finishing sprint in Matera.
This time, as the stage ended with a straight run of more than one kilometre, Demare's team-mates led him out in a well-organised 'train' and he overpowered his rivals in the final metres.
"The way they work is extraordinary," said Demare of his willing 'domestiques'.
The run from Matera was flat and, at 143 kilometres, relatively short and included a stretch of the ancient Roman Appian Way.
The pack was broken up early by crosswinds, but reformed and was then slowed by crashes, one involving Dane Jakob Fuglsang, the Astana team leader.
"The stage was really very fast," Demare reported after the forceful pace set by Almeida's Deceuninck co-riders.
Of the closing sprint he said: "I held back a bit, there was a headwind. I felt Sagan was there, ready to overtake me, but I knew how to keep him in check."
For Sagan his body language at the line spoke volumes for the frustration he was feeling after his 31st runner-up finish in a Grand Tour stage compared to 16 wins, his last coming back in July 2019.
"I was close to winning but it simply wasn't the right day," said the three-time former world champion.
Saturday's eighth stage is a largely flat 200km run up the Adriatic coast from Giovinazzo to Vieste.
One member of the peloton who will not be taking any further part is Tony Gallopin, the French rider who has had to pull out after fracturing his left wrist in a fall.
Results and standings in the Giro d'Italia after the 143km seventh stage from Matera to Brindisi on Friday:
1. Arnaud Demare (FRA/Groupama-FDJ) 2hr 47min 28sec, 2. Peter Sagan (SVK/BOR) same time, 3. Michael Matthews (AUS/SUN) s.t., 4. Ben Swift (GBR/INE) s.t., 5. Alvaro Hodeg (COL/DEC) s.t., 6. Rudy Barbier (FRA/ISR) s.t., 7. Davide Ballerini (ITA/DEC) s.t., 8. Enrico Battaglin (ITA/BAH) s.t., 9. Filippo Fiorelli (ITA/BAR) s.t., 10. Elia Viviani (ITA/COF) s.t., 11. Fernando Gaviria (COL/UAE) s.t.
16. Joao Almeida (POR/DEC) s.t.
1. Joao Almeida (POR/Deceuninck) 24hr 48min 29sec, 2. Peio Bilbao (ESP/BAH) at 43sec, 3. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN) 48, 4. Harm Vanhoucke (BEL/LOT) 59, 5. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/TRE) 1:01, 6. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/DDT) 1:05, 7. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 1:19, 8. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/JUM) 1:21, 9. Patrick Konrad (AUT/BOR) 1:26, 10. Rafal Majka (POL/BOR) 1:32
21. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) 3:52, 106. Peter Sagan (SVK/BOR) 51:21, 129. Arnaud Demare (FRA/FDJ) 1hr 02:22