Chris Froome (Team Sky) moved to within striking distance of a podium position in the 2018 Giro d'Italia after posting a par performance in the key Rovereto time trial during stage 16. He insisted it's "still all to race for" as the corsa rosa prepares for three important stages in the mountains, which start with the steady ascent to Pratonevoso on Thursday.
The Briton finished fifth, 35 seconds down on Rohan Dennis' (BMC Racing) winning time and 13 seconds behind Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).
"After the rest day I felt a bit better, a bit more recovered," Froome acknowledged.
"I rode that stage the way I wanted to. I didn't take any risks out on the course today especially given what happened in Jerusalem. Maybe I'm lacking a little bit of confidence in the corners, but in terms of power and feelings I was pretty happy about today," he said to a small group of media while warming down.
Froome rode a steady stage. He was 24 seconds down on Dennis' benchmark time, and he slipped to 31 seconds behind at the second checkpoint. It was the first time Froome had finished outside of the top three in a late stage Grand Tour TT since the short final test of the Vuelta a España in 2014.
Froome lies in fourth after moving past Richard Carapaz (Movistar), Miguel Ángel López (Astana) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ). He is 39 seconds off Domenico Pozzovivo's (Bahrain-Merida) third place on overall classification and 3:50 behind an increasingly secure-looking Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who said he had ridden the best long time trial of his career.
Froome said the upcoming mountain stages, which start on Thursday, and the Giro's recent history – such as Vincenzo Nibali's comeback from a 4:43 deficit in the final week of the 2016 race – mean the race is not over yet.
"Tomorrow should be a straightforward day on paper, but this is the Giro so anything could happen," he said. "And then we've got three really big mountain days back-to-back. Those are generally where we've seen pretty big upsets if there are going to be any, so I think it's still all to race for at the moment."
However, he said, Yates, who said he would start riding more defensively now that he has retained the maglia rosa, looked hard to budge.
"Simon's been untouchable until now, so it'll be interesting to see how he pulls up after this time trial and how he is in this last block, but at the moment I can't see anyone taking that jersey off his shoulders."