Simon Yates’ 56-second hold on the pink jersey at the 2018 Giro has been halved, the 25yo Mitchelton Scott rider succumbing to a late attack by a slick group of riders including Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome during a mountainous Stage 18 of the race.
In less than two kilometres Yates lost 27 precious seconds to defending champion Dumoulin – Yates is now just 28 seconds ahead with three stages to go.
“I didn’t have great legs there at the end,” Yates said after the stage.
“I did the best I could and that’s it. I’m still in front and I’d prefer to be in front than behind, so it’s all good. If this is my worst day, this is a good thing.”
Saying he was better suited for the next two stages of racing, Yates took a positive view of the final run to Rome.
“Like the other stages we have had, tomorrow there are a lot of passes and that will fatigue the other guys in the final which helps me a lot more,” he told Mitchelton-Scott.
“Everyone is talking like Dumoulin is just a trial triallist, but he is a classy rider. I’m not surprised he attacked today and I’ve said all along we can’t write any of our rivals in the top ten off.”
Meanwhile an upbeat Tom Dumoulin made his intentions clear, saying the race is far from over.
“Finally I took some time back,” he said. “Today was perfect for me, slow and then full gas uphill. I was waiting until the right moment and at two kilometres to go I tried to see what was possible.”
Dumoulin said he was surprised that Yates had shown his first sign of weakness and been dropped on the final climb.
“I didn’t expect him to drop,” he said. “It’s been a good day but I know that the coming two days are going to be much different so we will just have to see how things go. The race isn’t over.”
Stage 18 Top 3
1. Maximillian Schacmann (Quick-Step-Floors) 04:55:42
2. Ruben Plaza (Israel-Cycling-Academy) +0:10
3. Mattia Cattaneo (Androni-Sidermec) +0:16
General classification after Stage 18
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 75:06:24
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team-Sunweb) +0:28
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) +2:43