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Giro d'Italia

Yates in lead, but worried about Dumoulin

Simon Yates is not comfortable with his slim lead over defending champion Dumoulin as the Giro's key time trial draws near.

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OSIMO, Italy (VN) — Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) may lead the 2018 Giro d’Italia, but he is worried. The 47-second buffer is insufficient with last year’s winner Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) breathing down his neck and a time trial on the horizon.

Yates does not carry a calculator, but he will be doing the math when he is racing. Dumoulin, the time trial world champion, could put minutes into him next Tuesday when the Giro starts the third week with a 34.2-kilometer time trial to Rovereto

“47 seconds is not enough, but I’m just happy to have gained another two seconds today,” Yates said.

Yates launched a lethal attack in the final two kilometers of stage 11 when the Marche roads pitched to 16% to reach the hilltop town of Osimo. On such a finish, Yates is at his best.

He won his second stage and celebrated his second victory in four days in the pink leader’s jersey. These are good times for the British 25-year-old, twin brother of teammate Adam Yates.

Simon Yates claimed his second stage win at the 2018 Giro wearing the pink jersey and put more time into his rivals. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

But there is Tom Dumoulin. The Dutchman, the first to win the Giro overall in 2017, charged immediately after Yates Wednesday and closed in as the finish line neared. He underscored his intentions to win a second consecutive Giro.

Other rivals trickled in: Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) at eight seconds with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) at 18, Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) at 21, and Chris Froome (Sky) at 40.

“It’s not just me and Tom,” Yates said. “There are many rivals still and they are close to me, but Tom is the one I’m afraid of because with the TT yet to come it’s going to be difficult to beat him.”

Direct previous time trial comparisons are hard to come by. In recent times, they have not raced a similar distance against each other in a flat time trial.

Dumoulin does not know how much he could gain — or at least he would not make a prediction.

“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” Dumoulin explained.

“I never look at time differences, I just go full-gas until the finish of the time trial and I will see what I get. But first, there’s this weekend.”

This weekend with the stage to Monte Zoncolan and the climb-heavy day to Sappada much could change. One thing is certain, Yates will continue to attack to gain more time on Dumoulin, and other strong time trial rivals like Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) and Chris Froome (Sky).

“It’s not a two-way battle, because there are four to five guys who are still close. Guys like Froome, he was going to take a lot of time out of the time trial and lot of hard stages to come,” Yates said.

“I’m in a position where I need to gain time. Maybe explode but I need the time.”