Spaniard Alberto Contador bounced back from a crash to retake the overall lead in the Giro d`Italia as rivals Fabio Aru and Richie Porte stumbled in Saturday`s 14th stage time-trial.
The 32-year-old, who won the Italian race in 2008, finished third on the day but finished nearly three minutes ahead of overnight leader Aru after a 59.4km race against the clock won by Sky`s Belarus rider Vasil Kiryienka.
Contador, the 2007 and 2009 Tour de France winner, is bidding to become the first man since Marco Pantani in 1998 to complete the Giro d`Italia-Tour de France double.
The Spaniard now looks in complete command of the race ahead of the final week which nevertheless includes some key mountain stages prior to next Sunday`s final to Milan.
Aru has dropped to second place to sit 2min 28secs behind the Spaniard, with Costa Rican rider Andrey Amador of Movistar third overall at 3:36 and 2013 runner-up Rigoberto Uran fourth at 4:14.
Porte, who along with Contador got caught up in a crash at the end of Friday`s stage and reportedly damaged his knee, saw his challenge all but slip out of sight, the Australian finishing 55th at 4:40 to drop to 17th overall at 8:52.
"I knew I could make a difference today, but I didn`t expect the time gaps to be so large," said Contador, who admitted this will likely be his last participation in the Italian race as he looks forward to retirement.
"I`d like to thank the crowd, they`ve been fantastic especially as it will likely be my final Giro d`Italia."
It was Kiryienka`s third stage win on the Giro, his first in the time-trial.
"It`s a really special victory me for," he told Eurosport. "Of course I go well in the time trials but I`ve not had a big time trial victory in a while so it`s nice to take one."
However the Belarusian`s win was scant consolation for Sky compared with the objective they had set Porte at the start of the race.
"Of course we`re not very lucky this Giro with Richie," added Kiryienka.
"It seems that it is difficult for the overall (victory) now, but in the next few days of course we`ll be there and we`re going to try and fight for (stage) wins."