Portugal's Rui Costa kept his composure in a tense finale to upset the favourites and clinch the cycling world championships road race on Sunday.
After sitting behind and refusing to take turns at the front, Costa made his move some 1.5 kilometres from the finish to bridge the gap with Joaquim Rodriguez and beat the Spaniard in a sprint finish to become the first Portuguese to win the event.
Another Spaniard, Alejandro Valverde, took third place for his fifth podium at the event although he has never won the coveted rainbow jersey.
Home favourite Vincenzo Nibali, who launched the decisive attack in the Fiesole climb despite being one of several riders to crash during the rain-hit 272.3-km race, had to settle for fourth.
The move left one-day race specialists Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, Peter Sagan of Slovakia and defending champion Philippe Gilbert of Belgium stuck on the tarmac on the final of 10 laps on a 16.6-km circuit.
About half of the peloton had already abandoned midway through the race, and the whole British team had gone out with five laps to go on a woeful day for Tour de France champion Chris Froome and his team mates.
Only 61 riders of the 208 on the start list finished the race that almost turned into carnage.
Multiple crashes and the Italian team's pace at the front caused splits in the peloton but Sagan, Cancellara and Gilbert held on until Nibali attacked and was followed by Rodriguez, Valverde, Costa and Colombia's Rigoberto Uran, who was ruled out of contention when he crashed in a descent.
Rodriguez was the most active rider, attacking relentlessly but his moves were covered by Nibali, who however could not follow the Spaniard's acceleration some three kilometres from the line on drying roads.
Costa, who served a five-month doping suspension in 2010 after taking a contaminated food supplement, stayed on the wheels of Valverde and Nibali, declining to take turns in the chase when prompted by the Giro d'Italia champion.
Former world champion Cadel Evans of Australia, as well as Ireland's Dan Martin and Vuelta winner Chris Horner of the U.S. pulled out after being involved in crashes.
Image: Rui Costa
Photograph: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters