Yates wins 15th stage for 3rd win, extends Giro lead

Britain's Simon Yates celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Tolmezzo to Sappada, Italy, Sunday, May 20, 2018. Simon Yates made it a hat trick of wins in the Giro d'Italia on the 15th stage and the British rider consolidated his overall lead on Sunday as the race heads into its final week. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)
Britain's Simon Yates celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race, from Tolmezzo to Sappada, Italy, Sunday, May 20, 2018. Simon Yates made it a hat trick of wins in the Giro d'Italia on the 15th stage and the British rider consolidated his overall lead on Sunday as the race heads into its final week. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)
Chris Froome of Britain shows a cake with candle to celebrate his birthday, prior to the start of the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia from Tolmezzo to Sappada, in Tolmezzo, Italy, Sunday, May 20, 2018. . (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)
Overall leader Simon Yates of Britain, left, arrives to take the start of the 15th stage of the Giro d'Italia from Tolmezzo to Sappada, Italy, Sunday, May 20, 2018. . (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)

SAPPADA, Italy — Simon Yates made it a hat trick of wins in the Giro d'Italia on the 15th stage Sunday and the British rider consolidated his overall lead as the race heads into its final week.

After unsuccessfully attempting a similar move just moments earlier, Yates set off on a solo attack with 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) remaining. He looked back after a few meters and continued to accelerate.

Miguel Angel Lopez edged out Tom Dumoulin for second to lead a group of five cyclists over the line, 41 seconds behind Yates at the end of the 176-kilometer (109-mile) route through the Dolomites from Tolmezzo to Sappada. The grueling leg saw riders almost continuously climbing and descending.

"It was really hard from the bottom of the climb. I still felt good so I chose my moment to go," said Yates, who was struggling to hold back tears. "They responded the first time but then I tried again and I gave it everything to get away. It's fantastic. I don't know why I'm a bit emotional after today. I gave everything."

Yates is clearly on a different level to his rivals and it is hard to see anyone managing to wrestle the leader's pink jersey off the Mitchelton-Scott cyclist.

Yates extended his lead over defending champion Dumoulin to 2 minutes, 11 seconds. Domenico Pozzovivo remained third, 2:28 behind.

Monday is the Giro's third and final rest day before the individual time trial, which is Dumoulin's speciality.

"He can take two minutes out of me on the TT, on one stage. So it's not over," Yates said. "But I'm happy with what I did today."

However, Dumoulin believes Yates is in such good form that he is favorite to clinch overall victory when the Giro ends in Rome on May 27.

"He's in such great shape that maybe he can also do a really good time trial. We'll just have to see," Dumoulin said. "Even if I have an excellent TT and he doesn't and I take the lead, it's still going to be very difficult. He's riding away from us whenever he wants."

Yates' British compatriot, Chris Froome, had got himself back into contention with victory on the iconic Monte Zoncolan on Saturday.

But the four-time Tour de France champion, who was presented with a cake before the start of the stage to mark his 33rd birthday, had a day to forget.

Froome was distanced again on Sunday, on the fourth of five categorized climbs, and slipped nearly five minutes behind Yates.

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