(Reuters) - Britain’s Simon Yates tightened his grip on the overall lead at the Giro d’Italia on Sunday after storming to victory in Stage 15 with a strong solo effort.
Yates attacked 18-kilometres from the finish to leave his rivals in the dust and claim his third stage win on the 176-km ride from Tolmezzo to Sappada.
The 25-year-old from Bury started the day with a one minute and 24 second lead over Dutch rider and defending champion Tom Dumoulin, who battled hard to finish third behind Miguel Angel Lopez, 41 seconds off the pace.
The win means Yates extended his lead over Dumoulin to two minutes and 11 seconds with one week to go.
Team Sky’s Chris Froome, who won Saturday’s stage on Monte Zoncolan, finished 17th, one minute and 32 seconds behind his fellow Briton and dropped two places to seventh in the overall standings, four minutes and 52 seconds behind Yates.
On a stage peppered with second category climbs, Italian Guilio Ciccone and German Nico Denz led the main group with 30km to go.
Astana rider Lopez attacked with 18km left and the peloton split with Froome dropping back. Yates, who had been patiently biding his time, chose that moment to launch his own devastating attack.
He opened up an 18-second lead over Dumoulin, Lopez, Movistar’s Richard Carapaz, Bharain-Merida’s Domenico Pozzovivo and Frenchman Thibaut Pinot and kept pulling away all the way to the finish line.
Dumoulin, the world time-trial champion, will look to cut Yates’s lead during Tuesday’s 34.2km time trial.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge