Rohan Dennis determined to battle on despite losing Giro d'Italia lead


The overall favourites will face a far tougher assignment on Saturday as the race heads back into the mountains for the 209km eighth stage, with the final climb at Montevergine di Mercogliano 17km long with an average gradient of five percent.

Simon Yates soared up Mount Etna to take over as the new Giro d'Italia leader and his team-mate Esteban Chaves is up to third after winning a gruelling stage six. Dutch rider Dumoulin is now second overall at 16sec behind Yates.

It was a perfectly constructed race by Mitchelton-Scott - with Kiwi Sam Bewley helping out deep into the stage - as they managed to sneak the risky Chaves into an incredible 28 man breakaway to begin the stage.

With two mountain stages to come at the weekend, Yates's domestiques were given a relatively easy day as the sprinters' teams took responsibility for controlling the gap to the break as Quick-Step Floors and Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia dominated the front of the bunch. "At one point I thought we'd left it too late but the timing was right and I could use my power to get an advantage".

Groupama-FDJ rider Thibaut Pinot finished third, 26 seconds behind the leading duo in the same group as reigning champion Dumoulin, Tour de France champion Chris Froome and UAE Team Emirates rider Fabio Aru. "Despite being the third leader's jersey I've had from the three Grand Tours, it was as special as if it had been my first one", he said.

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Froome, who has been off the pace at times so far, is one minute 10 seconds back.

"Nothing changes after today". Obviously I don't have the pink jersey, but that's not an issue.

"I said to him as soon as I caught him that he could take the stage because if I had enough time I would take the jersey".

Bennett has stressed the importance of patience at the Giro - making sure he is in form in the final week - but he will also know how crucial it is to not lose time on the upcoming two stages.