Simon Yates retained the maglia rosa as Tom Dumoulin could only finish third in a Giro d'Italia stage 16 time trial which was won by Rohan Dennis.
Yates limited his losses on a day which was seen as pivotal in the general classification battle, time-trial specialist Dumoulin only able to reduce the Mitchelton-Scott rider's advantage to 56 seconds on the 34 kilometre course from Trento to Rovereto.
Coming into the stage, the race leader's explosive climbing had given him a margin of two minutes and 11 seconds over world time trial champion Dumoulin, who was unable to do significant damage at the start of the final week.
It was no secret that Yates is far less at home in time trials than he is in the mountains, but the Brit has given himself a golden opportunity to claim a maiden Grand Tour title in Rome this weekend after passing a major examination on Tuesday.
Australian Dennis put the hammer down to take his first Giro stage win in a time of 40 minutes ahead of Tony Martin.
BMC Racing's Dennis crossed the line 14 seconds quicker than Martin, with defending champion Dumoulin 22 seconds off the pace.
Chris Froome finished in fifth which was good enough to move up to fourth spot in the GC standings. He trails Yates by three minutes and 50 seconds behind third-placed Domenico Pozzovivo, who now sits over three minutes back from the leader having finished 33rd in the time trial.
Thibaut Pinot had a day to forget, slipping down to fifth place overall, finishing three minutes and 19 seconds off the pace of Dennis.
YATES PASSES STERN EXAMINATION
Yates said there was a danger he could blow up to undo the good work and end his title hopes given that time trials are not his forte.
But he knuckled down impressively to finish 22nd after coming off the ramp last, reaching the second intermediate in 30:44 and pressing on under the strain with so much at stake.
Dumoulin was 21 seconds up on Yates at the first check and stretched that to 48 at the second, which was 24km in.
The Dutchman threw everything at it in the closing stages, but it was not enough to take a stage win - which would have earned him a 10-second bonus - and Yates should sleep far more easily than he might have feared on Tuesday evening.
Dennis showed why he was one of the favourites to win the stage, reaching the second split six seconds ahead of Martin and keeping hold of his advantage.
Froome was sixth at the first split, but motored on in the latter stages of his run with an excellent recovery, keeping him firmly in the hunt for a podium finish.
1. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) 40:00
2. Tony Martin (Katusha Alpecin) +0.14
3. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) +0.22
4. Jos van Emden (Lotto NL-Jumbo) +0.27
5. Chris Froome (Team Sky) +0.35
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 66:39:14
2. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) +56
3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) +3:11
1. Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) 237
2. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 197
3. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)) 113
King of the Mountains
1. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) 91
2. Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF) 52
3. Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) 47
A 155km ride from Riva del Garda to Iseo is not expected to see any change in the GC battle, with just a few climbs at the start and in the middle of a 17th stage which will give an opportunity to attackers. The Alps will follow later in the week.
23 de junio 2018
|Marquez asks Mexico fans to ´let them rest´|
|Fabregas hopeful of Spain recall|
|Milinkovic-Savic plays down Juventus speculation|
|Rashford inspired by Ronaldo|
|Messi is not a leader, he is no Ronaldo, claims Petit|
|Better than Ballack? Hodgson backs Loftus-Cheek to shine against Panama|
|Svitolina and Garcia suffer upsets|
22 de junio 2018
|Walker responds to Ferdinand criticism|
|Djokovic still hungry for more after reaching major milestone|
|Ellis drop goal earns Castleford dramatic win|
|Nigeria hero Musa unsure on Leicester City future|
|X marks the spot - Granit´s rocket sets World Cup first|
|Xhaka and Shaqiri follow the script as Serbia are derailed|
|Chandimal appeal against ban rejected|
|Real Madrid sign teenage goalkeeper Lunin|
|Serbia 1 Switzerland 2: Shaqiri strikes late to clinch crucial comeback victory|
|Suspended Srna joins Serie A side Cagliari|
|Cilic sets up Kyrgios showdown as Djokovic reaches milestone|
|Kudla up next in Federer´s Halle ´fight´|
|Assistant Farbrace to take charge of England for T20 games|
|Hummels hoping to be fit for Sweden clash|
|Hend surges clear as Fleetwood struggles again in Pulheim|
|Giant-killers Mexico embrace sudden weight of expectation|
|Roma complete €17.25m Kluivert deal|
|Pakistan name strong group for Zimbabwe tour|
|Choc Horror: Boullier insists McLaren do not hand out Freddos as bonuses|
|Neymar: Not everyone knows what I went through|
|Poland v Colombia: No time to dwell on regrets, warns Aguilar|
|Musa shows Messi how it´s done to set up critical Argentina showdown|
|Nigeria 2 Iceland 0: Musa brace boosts Super Eagles & Argentina|
|McLaren and Renault open to Ricciardo talks|
|We must win, we have no other choice - Maaloul|
|Germany will respond against Sweden, insists Low|
|´The best among all Asians´, South Korea trust in Son against Mexico|
|Stalin´s bunker an unlikely site for Russia´s World Cup charm offensive|
|England v Panama: Rashford tipped to start as Southgate´s side aim for last 16|
|Erasmus wary of ´wonderful´ Cipriani|
|Hummels to miss Germany-Sweden, confirms Low|
|Murray accepts Eastbourne wildcard|
|St Petersburg madness lines up Neymar and Brazil with heroes of the past|
|Martinez happy to be ´boring Belgium´|
|Japan v Senegal: Squeaky clean Group H rivals eyeing huge step towards last 16|
|Argentina team the worst in history - Ardiles|
|Ravanelli upsets wife by taking Arsenal job...in Kiev|
|Federer moves a step closer to 10th title in Halle|
|Brazil 2 Costa Rica 0: Coutinho and Neymar score in stoppage time to snatch win|
|Andersson: Sweden embracing big occasion as bug sweeps through team|
|LeBron in ´good dialogue´ with Cavaliers|
|Ronaldo will always be the best, Fonte claims|
|Southgate criticises press for England team leak|
|O´Mahony: Series win in Australia would be up there with Grand Slam|
|Khedira thrilled with Can capture, staying with Juventus|
|Samuel open to Higuain-Icardi swap deal|
|It´s just a game - Milligan disappointed by Kruse criticism|
|From drug-testing lab to gastro pub: Sochi happy not to forget dark past|
|Ronaldo will do what is best for him, says Carvajal|
|Kohli: India will feel at home in England|
|Barca target Lenglet yet to decide future|
|Germany perform best under pressure, Klose claims|
|Juanfran signs one-year Atletico Madrid extension|
|Julian Nagelsmann: The remarkable rise of RB Leipzig|
|Sterling: my daughter is Liverpool through and through!|
|Van Bommel to take charge of PSV|
|Hansen urges France not to ´squeal´ over decisions|
|Intelligent Jones will turn England´s fortunes around - Moody|
|Nainggolan confirms imminent Inter transfer|
|U.S. Open missed cut may be blessing in disguise - McIlroy|
|Schmidt in no rush to decide on his future|
|Wallabies treating decider as grand final - Hooper|
|Salah won´t leave World Cup, Egypt FA boss claims|