Race favourite Chris Froome powered back following his early struggles in the Giro d'Italia by winning the prestigious 14th stage to the summit of Monte Zoncolan on Saturday.
The four-time Tour de France winner won the stage following a battle with fellow Briton Simon Yates of Mitchelton who finished second six seconds behind and put time into key rivals as he held on to the overall leader's pink jersey.
Yates crossed the line six seconds behind Froome after a thrilling battle on the final 10km climb with a 11.9 percent gradient, reputedly one of the toughest in Europe.
Italy's Domenico Pozzovivo finished in third place 23sec behind the Froome.
"It's a really special feeling to win at the top of this climb, especially after the hard start I've had," said Froome.
Team Sky rider Froome has struggled at key moments since the start of the race -- falling twice -- and is now over three minutes off the lead.
"It's such a monumental climb in this Giro d'Italia," continued Froome.
"I did the recon and I believed that with 4km to go was the right place to attack. Right to the line, Simon Yates was just behind me. It's a relief to win here."
Defending champion Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands crossed in fifth but trails Yates by 1 min 24 sec in the overall standings.
"I tried to go for the stage. I did my best to catch Chris," said Yates.
"I just didn't have enough to get it. But as far as the Maglia Rosa (pink jersey) is concerned, it's all good to be second here."
It was the first stage win on the Giro for 32-year-old Froome, but he remains 3min 10sec behind Yates in the overall standings.
Froome is bidding to become the first rider to win three Grand Tours in a row since Frenchman Bernard Hinault in 1982/83.
Sunday's 15th stage crosses the Dolomites over a 176km route includes four climbs to reach Sappada Station. Monday will be the final rest day on the Giro which finishes in Rome on May 27.