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Simon Yates’ (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) hopes of winning the Giro d’Italia evaporated on the slopes of Blockhaus on Sunday as he ultimately finished 11:15 behind stage winner Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) and plummeted out of the top-ten.
Before the stage, Yates had been the best placed of all the overall contenders following his exceptional time-trial in Budapest on Stage 2 and strong ride up Mount Etna on Stage 4.
But, under the pressure of a relentless pace set by the Ineos-Grenadiers and still suffering from a knee injury he sustained on Stage 4, Yates was dropped on the lower slopes of the Blockhaus with 12 km still to race.
“I was hopeful of still being able to try and do something, but I’ve been in a lot of pain since Etna,” Yates said at the finish. “I’ve been trying to manage it as best as possible but it wasn’t my only problem today I struggled also with the heat.”
Although he initially seemed to explode, Yates recovered and began to limit his losses, maintaining a 35second gap while some of his other GC rivals – including Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohë) – were also spat out the back of the leading group.
As Richie Porte took over the pace-setting for Ineos-Grenadiers, however, the gap doubled to 1’20”.
From that point onwards, as the battle for the stage victory intensified up the road, Yates’ losses only grew and hit four minutes 2.5 kilometers from the finish.
At the front of the race, meanwhile, Carapaz, Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) seemed to be the strongest of the overall contenders as they broke clear of the peloton before they were eventually reeled in before the finish. Juan Pedro López (Trek-Segafredo) retained the maglia rosa despite a mechanical incident on the climb.
“I’ll see what happens now, we’ve got the rest day and I’ll see how I pull up from the stage today,” Yates said after the race. He now sits in 25th place overall, 11:11 behind López.