Joao Almeida (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) saw his maglia rosa hopes evaporate on the punishing Stelvio climb on Stage 18 at the Giro d’Italia.
The Portuguese rider held a 17-second advantage in the general classification ahead of Thursday’s run from Pinzolo to Laghi di Cancano.
But he was unable to hold a brutal tempo from Team Sunweb, who were hoping to propel second-placed Wilco Kelderman into the lead.
‘Looks like he could be in real trouble’ – Leader Joao Almeida cracks on Stelvio
Almeida was not the only rider to suffer, with the fancied Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) also falling back.
The fierce pace left a four-strong group of Kelderman and Jai Hindley (both Sunweb) and Tao Geoghegan Hart and Rohan Denis (both Ineos Grenadiers) – only for Kelderman to drop back to further spice up a thrilling day.
Hindley and Geoghegan Hart, third and fourth in GC, sat 2:58 and 2:59 behind respectively ahead of Stage 18.