Ineos Grenadiers rider Filippo Ganna claimed his third stage win at the 2020 Giro d’Italia as Joao Almeida extended his overall race lead on stage 14.
Italian world time trial champion Ganna finished ahead of team-mate Rohan Dennis with Brandon McNulty in third.
McNulty’s effort on the 34.1km time trial from Conegliano to Valdobbiadene saw him climb to fourth overall.
But it was also a good day for Almeida, who now leads by 56 seconds from Wilco Kelderman.
The 22-year-old, who started the day 40 seconds ahead of the Dutch rider, gained ground on all of his general classification rivals bar McNulty.
Spain’s Pello Bilbao and two-time Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali are now both over two minutes adrift of the maglia rosa as the race heads towards a demanding final week in the mountains.
“It was a good day,” said Almeida. “I did a good time trial and now I have a few seconds more on Wilco Kelderman. I hope to continue like this, I feel good.”
American McNulty’s superb ride saw him rise seven places in the general classification, while Britain’s Tao Geoghegan Hart also impressed, moving up a place to 11th.
While Ineos Grenadiers were dealt a blow by Geraint Thomas’ injury and subsequent withdrawal after stage three, they have now won four stages so far.
And with Ganna in such dominant form against the clock they will be favourites to add at least one more in the concluding time trial in Milan.
“This is my third victory in the Giro, I am very proud of it,” Ganna said.
“This year I have improved a lot thanks to the help of my team. Every little improvement is important and contributes to performances such as this one.”
Earlier on Saturday, cycling’s governing body, the UCI, confirmed that there had been no new reported cases of Covid-19 at the race after 512 tests were conducted on Thursday and Friday.
The tests, which went beyond the original protocols for the race, were conducted after EF Pro Cycling – winners of two of the 14 stages so far – wrote to race organisers asking for the race to end this Sunday.
On Tuesday, Mitchelton-Scott and Jumbo-Visma both withdrew from the tour following positive tests in their camps. Another round of testing is due to take place on Monday’s second rest day.
Sunday’s 15th stage sees the race take the mountainous 185km route from Base Area Rivolto to Piancavallo.
Stage 14 result
1. Filippo Ganna (Ita/Ineos Grenadiers 42mins 40secs
2. Rohan Dennis (Aus/Ineos Grenadiers) +22secs
3. Brandon McNulty (US/UAE Team Emirates) +1min 09secs
4. Thomas De Gendt (Bel/Lotto-Soudal +1min 11secs
5. Josef Cerny (Cze/CCC) +1min 16secs
6. Joao Almeida (Por/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +1min 31secs
7. Tanel Kangert (Est/EF Pro Cycling) +1min 33secs
8. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa/Ineos Grenadiers) +1min 44secs
9. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Sunweb) +1min 47secs
10. Jan Tratnik (Slo/Bahrain McLaren) +2mins 00secs
General classification after stage 14
1. Joao Almeida (Por/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 54hrs 28mins 09secs
2. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Sunweb) +56secs
3. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Bahrain-McLaren) +2mins 11secs
4. Brandon McNulty (US/UAE Team Emirates) +2mins 23secs
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Trek-Segafredo) +2mins 30secs
6. Rafal Majka (Pol/Bora-Hansgrohe) +2mins 33secs
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita/NTT Pro Cycling Team) Same time
8. Fausto Masnada (Ita/Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +3mins 11secs
9. Patrick Konrad (Aut/Bora-Hansgrohe) +3mins 17secs
10. Jai Hindley (Aus/Sunweb) +3mins 33secs
11. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB/Ineos Grenadiers) +3mins 44secs
14. James Knox (GB/Deceuninck-Quick Step) +7mins 56secs