Sam Bennett won his first Grand Tour stage when he sprinted to victory on the seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia.

The Waterford cyclist timed his gallop to perfection to take favourite Elia Viviani on the line, a 159km trek between Pizzo and Praia A Mare in the toe of Italy.

The 27-year-old has come close at the Giro before, but this was the first time he managed to get over the line first.

He was boxed in at one stage as the pace quickened in the last couple of hundred metres, but he eased off the gas, moved outside and still had enough in the tank to win.

"I feel relieved," he said afterwards. "I have been so close so many times in the Giro. Getting the timing right was key with so many strong sprinters. It's not easy to beat Viviani - he knows what he's doing.

"I had to get that wheel and show a bit of patience. I had to freewheel for a moment because I had gone to early, but when the time was right I really took it on."

This is Bora Hansgrohe rider Bennett's 23rd career win, but by far the biggest and the first by an Irish rider at one of cycling's big three - the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana - since Nicholas Roche at the Vuelta in 2015.

Britain's Simon Yeats remains in the leader's pink jersey after he finished safely in the peloton.

Grand Tour winner Sam Bennett

The generally flat Giro seventh stage was built for the sprinters. Former world champion Tony Martin got away in an early break with three other riders, but they were reeled in and replaced up the road by another breakaway.

But the Quickstep team of Viviani, the leader of the points classification and the form sprinter in the race, pulled it all back together with just over 14km to go.

The Italian had the perfect lead-out, but he was overhauled before the line by Bennett, who had to do all the work himself as his team were unable to lead him out having lost his lieutenant Rudi Selig to illness.

This was the first first time an Irish rider has claimed a stage at the Giro in 31 years, since Stephen Roche won a time trial on the way to overall victory in 1987.

Bennett had been close before, finishing third twice already in the opening week, following on from a number of podium places last year.