Geraint Thomas powered back to within touching distance of the Giro d’Italia top 10, with a rousing second place on the stage 10 time trial.
The Welshman bounced back from the disappointment of Sunday’s crash, recording an impressive time of 51 minutes and 26 seconds across an undulating 39.8-kilometre course.
The confidence-boosting ride saw Thomas put significant time into a number of general classification rivals, and moved him to just 14 seconds of the overall top 10 once more.
Vasil Kiryienka also backed up his team-mate with a strong ride, good enough for fifth on the day despite a crash on a dusty penultimate corner. The former world champion’s front wheel slid out, but the Belarusian was able to cross the line without issue in Montefalco.
The stage saw a dominant performance from Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), as the Dutchman went fastest through all intermediate splits to win the stage by 49 seconds, and pull on the maglia rosa.
With overnight leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar) losing almost three minutes out on course, Dumoulin now leads the Giro by 2:23 over the Colombian. Thomas sits 11th, 5:33 back but closing in on the top 10.
Team Sky riders enjoyed fantastic fan support as the race resumed from a rest day, with Mikel Landa another rider to dust himself off following Sunday’s heartbreaking pile-up. He finished 38th on the day, six places back on team-mate Salvatore Puccio, who rode well on familiar local roads.
After warming down Thomas put his impressive performance into perspective, telling TeamSky.com: “I’m lucky to still be in the race really. It was just about giving it everything today and seeing what happened. The legs are pretty good but my arm is still sore. I’m happy with how it went.
“It’s easy to think about what could have been. You’ve just got to forget about that and what’s been is done. There’s a lot of racing still left. I’m not going to give up and I’m going to fight all the way. We’ll see where that puts me.”
Thomas was also full of praise for the fans on the roadside, adding: “You expect support off the Brits and the Welsh fans back home which I love, but I seemed to get a lot of support off the Italian and Spanish fans today. That’s really encouraging as they don’t have to support me. It’s great to have cheers out there and it definitely spurs you on.
“I want to take it day by day now and hopefully I can recover over the next three stages. Tomorrow is a super hard day, then we’ve got two flat days. So hopefully I can recover. It’s a hell of a task now but we’ll see how it goes.”
The stage was also encouraging for Landa, who was happy to be back in action following a rest day scan.
He explained: “My legs didn’t feel too bad. I felt better than yesterday. During the stage I was able to really focus on the time trial and the race again. It was a nice feeling.
“There was some nice support out there from the fans. I think people realised that I did not give up, and it was really nice to hear the support.”
Stage 10 result:
1. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) 50:37
2. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) +49”
3. Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) +56”
4. Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) +1:40”
5. Vasil Kiryienka (Team Sky) +2:00”
1. Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) 42:57:16
2. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) +2:23”
3. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) +2:38”
4. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) +2:40”
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) +2:47”
11. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) +5:33”