Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), even with a 25-second lead, says he will not win the Tirreno-Adriatico when it ends in two days on Tuesday.
He gained more time Sunday on his number one rival Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), but the time trial closing out the Italian race concerns him.
"It's not a course that suits me. If there were hills in the course or if it was more technical, I'd have more confidence, but I've done the TT three or four times and every year, I lose a big chunk of time," Yates said. He added his oft-used phrase, "It is what it is."
Yates lost 36 seconds to Roglič over the same 10-kilometre time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto in 2018. The stage typically ends the race, last year tilting in favour of Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski when Yates finished fifth overall.
To give himself a chance, he attacked Roglič on the hilly circuit that closed stage five in Recanati on Sunday. He gained 17 seconds and two in bonus seconds by finishing in second place to solo winner Jakob Fuglsang (Astana). It was his last chance with only a flat sprint stage on Monday left before the time trial.
"So it's unlikely that I can win a stage now and we have a nice little advantage of 25 seconds but in my mind, it's not enough," continued Yates.
"In the back of my head, I'd have liked 45 seconds to be safe. I lost 36 seconds last year. I'll try my best but I can't do more. We all know Roglič is a super time triallist and on a course like this one, he'll take a lot of time out of me."
Roglič forced Yates to work as if already defending his lead in the Marchigiani stage five. Fuglsang attacked from far out but Yates waited and then gave everything, first at 11km out and then in the final moments.
"It was still a long way to the finish to go solo [for Fuglsang]. In the group behind there were 20 riders or so, so big-names with team-mates, so if I'd have gone, I could have lost a lot of energy before the real final. It's all tactical. I decided to wait and then went with two climbs to go. Roglič came with me and that was it," Yates continued.
"We were all suffering. There was fatigue in the legs after yesterday. Fuglsang attacked solo and still had a big advantage. Me and Roglic worked well together but there wasn't enough road to catch Fuglsang."
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