Matthias Mayer streaked to victory in the men's World Cup downhill in the Italian resort of Bormio on Wednesday, the Austrian admitting that anyone could have won given how tight the results were.
Mayer, gold medallist in downhill at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and in the super-G in Pyeongchang in 2018, topped speeds of 135km/h (84mph) to clock 1min 57.32sec down the famed Stelvio piste with the following 12 racers all finishing within a second.
It was Mayer's 10th World Cup victory, six coming in the downhill, and follows on from his impressive form last year when he racked up four wins before the season was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic.
"It was a very challenging race today and a very close one," said the 30-year-old Mayer.
"From start to finish you had to give it everything. You can’t say that this curve was better or that curve made the difference. When the race is so close anyone can win."
Mayer's teammate Vincent Kriechmayr was edged into second by 0.04sec, with Switzerland's Urs Kryenbuehl just two-hundredths adrift to round out the podium.
Italian Dominik Paris, a five-time winner in Bormio, was fourth (+0.13) as he makes a welcome return to the slopes after recovering from ruptured knee ligaments in Kitzbuehel in January.
In-form American Ryan Cochran-Siegle, who won Tuesday's super-G on the same Stelvio piste, came in seventh, one place off reigning World Cup overall champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway.
Kilde's sixth-placed finish saw him leapfrog France's Alexis Pinturault by three points into top spot of the general classification.
Technical expert Pinturault elected not to race this downhill, having picked up some valuable points by finishing 12th in the super-G.
The speed specialists now have a chance to catch their breath before they are back on duty in mid-January for the famed Lauberhorn downhill in the Swiss resort of Wengen.
Until then, the tech racers will be in the spotlight with stops in Zagreb and Adelboden, Switzerland.