Cadel Evans (BMC) fought all the way to the finish line in the shadow of the Rifugio Panarotta in the spectacular Valsugana, trying to limit his rivals and hang onto his third place overall at the Giro d'Italia.
However, when the time gaps were calculated and the overall classification formalized the veteran Australian had lost 1:35 minutes to his main rivals and so slipped from third overall to ninth, 4:59 down on race leader Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
Evans lead the Giro d'Italia from stage eight to stage 12 and seemed on track for success. He lost precious time and the pink jersey during the Barolo time trial but seemed strong on the climbs. Now, as the key mountain time trial to Monte Grappa and the finish on the steep Monte Zoncolan remain as the final obstacles of the 2014 Giro d'Italia, his chances have slipped away and he has been past by several younger rivals.
"In one way the day could be worse but it could certainly have been a lot better," Evans said after having to undergo an end of stage anti-doping control after going deep to try to limit his losses at the summit finish.
"The day didn’t go in my favour again today. I wasn’t at the level of the others. It was a big time loss and going from a podium place to just inside the top ten isn't the direction I wanted to take and is exactly what I didn’t want to happen."
Ready to fight back
Despite plummeting down the overall classification, Evans plucked up the courage and found the determination to fight back. He suggested this as not the end of his fight for a good placing overall or the end of the changes in the standings.
"This is only the beginning of the end of the Giro," he predicted.
"The next two days are still going to change things around, so I'm not so deluded by the whole thing. This Giro has been hard so far but the time gaps between third and ninth there less than a minute,"
"We’ll get a better idea of who is the best in the time [trial] and then there's still one more day (to the finish on Monte Zoncolan) where things can turn around. Obviously things are not in my favour for the time loss but there's not a lot I can do until tomorrow."
Evans said he will look to gain time on his closest rivals in the overall classification in Friday's 26.8km cronoscalata to Cima Grappa. He is 22 seconds behind Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) and 27 seconds behind Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp). They are perhaps in reach if the BMC team leader can produce a good time trial effort.
"It's not over until it's over," Evans said.
"Like always I want to get my best performance on to the road and the result sheet. As always in TT, the results will speak for themselves."
Evans' race of truth begins at 15:47 local time on Friday. The best riders are expected to take less than an hour to complete the 26.8km climb. It will be Evan's hour of truth.