Cadel Evans (BMC) was not crowned the king of Plan de Corones and had to be content to pull on the red points jersey instead of the pink jersey, but the world champion received a boost to his morale as he gained time on all his overall rivals.
Evans finished second, 42 seconds behind Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone), but pulled back 1:34 on David Arroyo (Caisse d'Epargne), 1:35 on Riche Porte (Saxo Bank) and perhaps more importantly he gained 28 seconds on Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Doimo).
"That's not bad. It's not super but it’s not bad. I did what I could," he said after the stage as he waited to go on the podium and pull on the red jersey.
Evans was fastest at the first intermediate time check after 7.6km but then lost 54 seconds in the second section, finishing 42 seconds down on Garzelli at the very summit of the climb.
"I started pretty well, which is unusual for me, but then I faded a bit mid-way," Evans said. "I think I got better on the dirt roads and I gained time on my overall rivals. I used my power to get up the dirt section. I didn't have the legs on the Zoncolan but today I left everything out on the road. Now I want to analyze the results in detail to see exactly where we are now."
Evans will see that he is now fourth overall, 3:09 behind Arroyo, 42 seconds behind Basso and 33 seconds down on Porte.
"I'm slowly pulling back the time. Everybody is saying that Basso will win the Giro but first both he and me have got to pull back time on Arroyo. I think he did pretty well today and a bit better than we all expected.
"I think he's holding onto the jersey pretty well and will be a danger all the way to Verona. He might even win the Giro. We've got the stage to Peio Terme, Aprica, the Gavia, the Passo Tonale and the Verona time trial. I don't know if it's enough to make a difference. It's still a very open Giro."