Simon Yates is still in control of the Giro d’Italia after the British rider limited his losses to closest rival Tom Dumoulin in the individual time trial yesterday.
Dumoulin was more than two minutes behind Yates heading into the 16th stage but, as a time trial specialist, it was seen as his best chance of taking the pink jersey from the Mitchelton-Scott cyclist.
However, Yates still leads Dumoulin by 56 seconds heading into the final five stages.
“I’m really happy,” Yates said shortly after crossing the line. “I really gave everything there. I was dying in the final 10 kilometres. I thought I would lose a lot more. I’m really happy. I’m really surprised I’ve kept the jersey, I’ll be honest.”
Domenico Pozzovivo remained third but slipped 3:11 behind Yates.
Rohan Dennis of Australia won the 34km (21 miles) time trial from Trento to Rovereto, beating Tony Martin by 14 seconds. Dumoulin was third, 22 seconds behind the BMC Racing Team cyclist.
“I had a good TT but Rohan Dennis and Tony Martin were better,” said Dumoulin, who rides for Team Sunweb. “I wasn’t strong enough. Yates also had a very good day so, all in all, it’s disappointing. I gave everything today. I’m keeping my head up and we’ll fight until Rome.”
Dennis lost the much shorter opening time trial in Israel by two seconds to Dumoulin.
“It’s pretty good to beat time-trialists like Tony Martin and Tom Dumoulin,” Dennis said. “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.”
Chris Froome finished fifth, 35 seconds behind Dennis, to move into fourth overall. The four-time Tour de France champion is 3:50 behind Yates but only 39 seconds behind Pozzovivo and a spot on the podium.
Froome arrived at the Giro bidding to become the third person to win three Grand Tours in a row but he crashed in training before the opening time trial, lost time in a split on stage four and injured himself again in a second crash four days later.
“I gave everything on the road today,” Froome said in Italian. “I’m happy because I think I jumped a few places in the standings. For the (general classification), it will be difficult. I’m far from Yates and he’s been very, very strong until now. I feel better every day. My legs are better especially after yesterday’s rest day. It’s not over yet. I’ll give everything and we’ll see whether I’ll finish third or fifth or wherever.”
The 17th stage today is a hilly 155-kilometre ride from Riva del Garda to Iseo, through the wine region of Franciacorta, before three gruelling days in the Alps and a run into Rome on Sunday.
Yates’ three stage wins have come on uphill finishes after thrilling attacks.
“There are still some difficult stages to come, I’ll look to defend now, unfortunately for the fans,” said Yates. “I hope I don’t have some bad days, something disastrous happens or anything and I hope to wear it into Rome.”