It had to be him. Simon Yates has seemed to be operating on a different plane on this Giro d’Italia thus far, and the Briton continued his effervescent start to the race by claiming the stage victory atop Gran Sasso d’Italia to buttress his hold on the maglia rosa.
As snow banked the roadsides near the summit of the Gran Sasso and Chris Froome (Team Sky) melted from the back of the leading group, Yates kept his cool as first Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and then Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) launched rasping efforts to test his resolve.
The bobbing figure of Pozzovivo led the dwindling group into the final kilometre, but as they drew closer to the summit, it was clear that Yates was simply biding his time. As the road curved slightly towards the Arrivo banner, the Briton unleashed a brisk acceleration that carried him to stage victory ahead of Pinot, and a 10-second time bonus to boot.
After his disarmingly strong display in the final 1,500 metres of the Giro’s first summit finish on Mount Etna on Thursday, Yates was not lacking in self-assurance as the race went above the 2,000-metre mark for the first time.
“I was not surprised, because I saw and I felt on Etna already that I had very good legs,” Yates said of his win. “But it was a very difficult stage and very long so I wasn’t 100 percent confident before the final.”
Yates’ victory cements his hold on the maglia rosa and he reaches the race’s second rest day with a lead of 32 seconds on teammate Esteban Chaves, who placed third on the stage, and 38 seconds over Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), who conceded 12 seconds when the lead group splintered in the closing metres. Pinot and Pozzovivo lie at 45 and 57 seconds, respectively.
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