Remco Evenepoel reclaimed the Giro d’Italia pink jersey after dramatically edging out Geraint Thomas by a single second in the stage nine time trial.
Thomas looked to have done enough when he beat fellow Briton and Ineos Grenadiers team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart by the same margin in the 35-kilometre race from Savignano sul Rubicone to Cesena on Sunday afternoon.
But Evenepoel flew out of the traps and, despite appreciably slowing after the first time check, the Belgian had enough in the tank to pip Thomas by crossing the line in 41 minutes and 24 seconds.
Evenepoel, who led the general classification for the first three stages, is now back in pink ahead of Monday’s rest day, with Thomas his closest challenger 45 seconds behind the Soudal–Quick-Step rider.
“I don’t think I paced it very well,” Evenepoel said. “I started too fast and my second part wasn’t that great.
“I found some better legs in the technical part because I could recover a bit. I wasn’t feeling too well in the second part with the head wind. It’s another stage win, but it wasn’t my best time trial.
“To go to the mountains with the advantage I have now is pretty good, but Ineos for sure will have some plans to attack me.
“But we have a strong team and a lot of confidence. I will have to recover well because my last two stages weren’t my best days. Firstly I want to enjoy this victory.”
Thomas remains without a stage win at the Giro and reflected ruefully on his fourth runner-up finish in the event’s time trial, having come second twice in 2012 and once in 2017.
“It’s nice to be getting better, but to be so close to the win kind of hurts,” he said.
“A few too many seconds for my liking, but it’s good to be in it anyway. Myself and Teo right up there looks good for the next part of the race.”
Team Jumbo–Visma rider Primoz Roglic sits third in the general classification, 47 seconds adrift of the lead, with Hart fourth, a further three seconds back.
Previous leader Andreas Leknessund now sits in sixth place overall.