Simon Yates secured an impressive victory on stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia to increase his overall lead to two minutes and 11 seconds.
After surviving Monte Zoncolan to finish second behind Chris Froome the previous day, the Mitchelton-Scott rider stamped his authority on the race with a stunning solo burst on Sunday's penultimate climb towards Sappada.
With the chasing pack failing to work together in pursuit, Yates remained clear of his rivals to tighten his grip on the maglia rosa ahead of the final week.
His third stage win at this year's Giro sees him extend his cushion over nearest rival Tom Dumoulin, who appeared in danger of losing even more time when he dropped off the back of the group behind Yates.
While the defending champion rallied over the closing kilometres, the Dutchman now has a sizeable gap to make up when the race resumes after a rest day with a pivotal individual time-trial.
Domenico Pozzovivo sits in third place in the general classification, a further 17 seconds back, but Froome's hopes of completing a Grand Tour treble were left in ruins after he slipped back in the standings.
The Team Sky leader, who failed to respond when his fellow Brit burst clear, has dropped down two spots to seventh and now languishes nearly five minutes behind Yates.
OPPORTUNITIES TO STRIKE
The 176-km journey from Tolmezzo carried the field through the Dolomites, taking in a number of notable climbs that were always likely to provide the main contenders with opportunities to strike.
Yates patiently waited before launching his attack with around 18km remaining and, with no one going with him on his wheel, quickly realised his only battle was against the clock.
Dumoulin was joined in a five-man group by Richard Carapaz, Miguel Angel Lopez, Thibaut Pinot and Pozzovivo, though the former became visibly frustrated with his rivals offered little assistance as they attempted to close the gap.
The lack of cohesion worked in Yates' favour and while he is likely to struggle to keep pace with Dumoulin - who is the world time-trial champion - in Tuesday's stage, the remainder of the Giro should work in the Englishman's favour as they head for Rome.
"I think that was the hardest 15km of my life," an emotional Yates told Eurosport. "I gave everything, I had nothing left to give there at the finish. I'm really happy with the gaps, but I still don’t know if it’s enough."
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 4:37:56
2. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) +0.41
3. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb)
4. Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida)
5. Richard Carapaz (Bahrain Merida)
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 65:57:37
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) +2:11
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) +2:28
1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) 237
2. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 197
3. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)) 113
King of the Mountains
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 91
2. Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF) 52
3. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) 47
Monday is a well-earned day of rest for the riders before they return to the saddle on Tuesday for an individual time-trial that spans 34.2 kilometres from Trento to Rovereto.
24 de enero 2019
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