Simon Yates cleared a significant hurdle in his bid for Giro d’Italia glory as the Bury rider kept the leader’s pink jersey on Tuesday’s time trial, which was won by Australian Rohan Dennis.
Yates’ time of 41 minutes 37 seconds, going last man out over the 34.5km course from Trento to Rovereto, saw him place only 22nd on the day.
However, it proved enough for the 25-year-old Mitchelton-Scott rider to keep the overall race lead by 56 seconds from defending champion Tom Dumoulin of Team Sunweb.
Dutchman Dumoulin, the world time trial champion, took 75 seconds out of Yates, but had started the day two minutes and 11 seconds down in second place.
Given Dumoulin’s class against the clock, he had always been expected to make significant gains, but his inability to overcome that deficit gives Yates the advantage going into the remaining five stages.
Team Sky’s Chris Froome recorded the fifth-best time on the day with a 40:35, which sees him move up to fourth overall, three minutes and 50 seconds down, after Frenchman Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ struggled.
BMC Racing’s Dennis, who won with a time of 40 minutes exactly, moves up to sixth overall with his first career Giro d’Italia stage win.
“It’s pretty good to beat time-triallists like Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin,” the Australian rider said after his victory.
“I came to the Giro to win a stage. I was hoping for Jerusalem to be that one. This stage was a big target for me as well. To win here and jump back in the top 10 is a big day for me.”
Yates, meanwhile, maintains he still has work to do, despite still holding an advantage of nearly a minute over Dutchman Dumoulin.
“I’m really happy. I felt good in the first half. I had a good rhythm. I was trying to hold on to my position, but I died in the final 10 kilometres,” the British rider said.
“Being in the lead after the time trial changes my tactics for the remaining stages. Unfortunately for the fans, I might be more defensive.
“I’d like to have a bigger gap, but I’m very satisfied with where I stand now.”