Unlike Saturday’s dogfight to establish the break, stage nine saw a large group escape the bunch and establish a large lead of over eight minutes early on.
The 15-strong break contained GC threat Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) as well as Mickael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale), Davide Ballerini and Fausto Masnada (both Androni–Sidermec–Bottecchia), Manuele Boaro (Bahrain-Merida), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Simone Andreetta (Bardiani CSF), Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Tim Wellens (Lotto Fix-All), Natneal Berhane (Dimension Data), Hugh Carthy (EF Education First-Drapac), Maxim Belkov (Katusha-Alpecin), Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) and Alex Turrin (Wilier Triestina).
It looked as thought the break would contest the stage between them until the Calascio climb where Astana picked the pace up - ably assisted by Vasil Kiryienka - to bring the gap to the breakaway down significantly, as the escapees were unable to maintain their healthy lead.
Then as the final ascent up to Gran Sasso Italia really kicked in, just six riders from the break were able to stay clear - Carthy, Boaro and Visconti Brambilla, Cherel and Masnada - with the Italian Androni rider going solo with 15km to go.
Masnada was able to stay away from his fellow escapees, but the peloton snapped him up with an agonising three kilometres to go as Yates came out on top in a battle of general classification contenders.