FOLIGNO, Italy (AP) German rider Andre Greipel captured his second sprint victory in the Giro d'Italia while Tom Dumoulin held onto the pink jersey after the seventh stage on Friday.
Greipel was behind the other sprinters going around high-speed curves but then surged in front on the final straight.
''It was tough all day with a strong breakaway that was hard to catch,'' said Greipel, who was nicknamed The Gorilla. ''My team did an amazing job. The chase had to be a serious one. Before the sprint, we hit the front early. ... The finish was nervous.''
Greipel clocked slightly more than five hours over the rolling 211-kilometer (131-mile) route from Sulmona to Foligno.
The Lotto Soudal team has three consecutive victories after Greipel took Stage 5, and teammate Tim Wellens took Stage 6.
''If we were playing football we would say we've scored a hat trick,'' Greipel said.
It was Greipel's 19th stage win in a Grand Tour - five at the Giro, 10 at the Tour de France, and four in the Spanish Vuelta - and the 131st victory in his career.
Italian riders Giacomo Nizzolo and Sacha Modolo finished second and third, respectively.
Dumoulin, who rides for Team Giant-Alpecin, remained 26 seconds ahead of Jakob Fuglsang, and 28 seconds in front of Ilnur Zakarin.
Overall contender Esteban Chaves finished nine seconds behind the main pack and dropped to 11th overall.
Javier Moreno, a Spaniard with the Movistar team, crashed midway through the stage and was concerned about his collarbone as he was loaded into an ambulance.
Of an early six-man breakaway, Stefan Kung was the last man to stay clear. The Swiss BMC rider was finally caught by the peloton with less than seven kilometers (five miles) to go.
Marcel Kittlel, the German who won the opening two sprints of the race, punctured a tire with about five kilometers (three miles) to go.
Stage 8 on Saturday is a 186-kilometer (116-mile) leg from Foligno to the Tuscan town of Arezzo, featuring a minor climb shortly before the finish.
Stage 9 Sunday could be one of the most important of the race, a hilly 40.5-kilometer (25-mile) time trial from Radda to Greve in Chianti in the heart of the Tuscan red wine-making region.