"I was in a good position, the boys did a good job to get me up front, but Yates went, and I went after him, and I put myself in a bad spot and struggled to the line". In the overall standings, they lie 3rd and 4th respectively, with Pinot trailing Yates by 1:04 and Pozzovivo a further 14 seconds back. It was a really, really tough finish with the pave, but happy to gain time and win the stage", Yates said, adding, "I still have nothing.
But once Chaves was dropped, the teams of overall hopefuls, including four-time Tour de France victor Chris Froome, reigning champion Tom Dumoulin, local favourite Fabio Aru and French hope Thibaut Pinot, pushed the pace in the peloton to ensure Chaves never regained contact.
The Sky rider reached the finish line in 23rd place on the stage, all of 40 seconds behind Yates, and in the general classification, he drops to 12th overall, already some 3:20 off the maglia rosa. "I felt good all day and I'm really pleased that I took advantage of the opportunity". "I could lose a lot of time".
'He was chasing me all the way to the finish there. "I'm going to keep fighting".
Their lead grew to over three minutes but began to fluctuate as the race neared the halfway mark.
"The team is motivated and I'm motivated".
Supported by three Mitchelton-Scott team-mates, Chaves managed to reduce the arrears to just one minute back to the main pack before his rivals combined to stretch out the lead to five minutes with still more than 80km left to ride.
"I certainly haven't given up hope, " Froome said.
The hilly stage included a climb through Michele Scarponi's hometown of Filottrano in honor of the 2012 Giro victor who died after a collision with a van while training shortly before last year's race.
There were a number of early attacks but nothing stuck until Luis León Sánchez and Alessandro De Marchi took off. They were swiftly joined by Fausto Masnada.
"We saw with Esteban Chaves how quickly things can change for the general classification riders, so we just have to keep plugging away and keep trying to do everything we can", Froome said. The race ends in Rome on 27 May.