Giro d'Italia overall leader Simon Yates buckled then rallied as multiple riders attacked him on the final climb to a summit finish on stage 18, which Germany's Max Schachmann after a long breakaway.
As the main contenders came up the final climb, long after Schachmann had finished, defending champion Tom Dumoulin made the first bid to drop Yates, who initially stuck to his wheel with about 1.5km to go.
Then pre-race favourite Chris Froome launched a spectacular assault and was followed by Dumoulin while Yates was unable to answer.
A haggard looking Yates dug deep however and limited the damage, crossing the finish line 28 seconds adrift of Dumoulin and Froome thereby maintaining half his advantage and holds a 28-second lead over the Dutchman in the overall standings with two brutal mountain stages still to contest.
Schachmann had been part of an escape group that opened a lead of over 14 minutes on the main contenders at the start of the final climb.
The Quick Step man won easily in the end as he outsprinted Spain's Ruben Plaza.
© 2018 AFP