Benat Intxausti burst for the line with 400 metres to go to claim victory on stage 16 of the Giro d'Italia as the general classification leaders held station behind.

The Spanish Movistar rider burst clear of Astana's Tanel Kangert and Lampre-Merida's Przemyslaw Niemiec down the final stretch after the trio had made their move with around three kiloemetres left.

A little earlier, Kangert's team-mate and overall leader Vincenzo Nibali briefly looked interested in making a break for it himself as he burst towards the front on the final descent a little over 13 kilometres from the finish.

But as they came into the town of Ivrea for the second time on this 238km stage, a series of attacks stretched out at the front and Nibali was happy to come home around 14 seconds behind the leaders.

BMC's Cadel Evans and Team Sky's Rigobert Uran were with him as there was no change at the front end of the general classification battle.

However, Mauro Santambrogio, who won Saturday's snowy stage 14 to move up to fourth in the GC standings, suffered a bad day as he finished 2:23 down, losing 2:10 on Nibali.

The stage began in the hills with one major climb up Col du Montcenis before flattening out for the long run to Ivrea, an ascent of the relatively minor Andrate, and the return to town.

Twenty-two riders made an early break for it and stayed there until the first pass through Ivrea.

As the peloton closed in, the lead group began to fracture and the final 30km of the stage saw a series of attacks and counter-attacks as riders tried to judge the right moment to get in front for the final descent.

Nibali was at the front of a peloton which was never far behind by this point, and he caught the leading pair of Carlos Betancur and Samuel Sanchez on the final descent.

But he stopped short of launching an attack of his own, looking more interested in helping Kangert to the front as they came back into town.

Kangert attacked along with Intxausti, Niemiec and Robert Gesink with 3km left, and after Gesink it was left to the other three to contest stage honours, with Intxausti timing his move to perfection.

Birthday boy Mark Cavendish, 28 today, was well down in the pack but held on to the points leader's red jersey going into tomorrow's stage 17 - where he and his fellow sprinters will get another chance of victory as the race moves out of the mountains.