Mikel Landa (Team Sky) held on to the overall race lead in the 2016 Giro del Trentino in Italy after overcoming numerous attacks on stage three's final climb on Thursday.
Estonian Tanel Kangert (Astana) escaped the clutches of the select lead group containing Landa on the final climb of Fai della Paganella and its subsequent steep descent to take a solo victory.
Landa came home in sixth place within a group of nine riders just 10 seconds behind Kangert. It was enough for Sky's Spaniard to keep the lead.
Patrick Konrad (Bora-Argon 18) was second on the stage, with Romain Bardet (Ag2r) in third.
Kangert's move elevates him to second place overall behind Landa at eight seconds, with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) in third at 10 seconds.
After Team Sky did much of the work throughout the stage, Landa was left without team-mates during the finale.
"On the final climb I felt good and thought I could defend the jersey. I didn't feel in difficulty until we finished the descent - the final 3km to the finish were flat and it would have been easy to lose time there.
"There are a lot of good riders close to me on the GC and they tried hard, but fortunately I felt very strong and I kept the jersey," Landa said after the stage.
"I was a little bit afraid because it was about 30 minutes of effort, my longest climb of the season, but I'm feeling better day by day.
"I was also a bit worried about being alone but we had worked a lot before, so I cannot complain to my team-mates. They did a fantastic job."
One rider who surprisingly appeared to fade on the final climb was Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), as the Italian came home in 32nd place and two minutes and 27 seconds down on team-mate Kangert. Nibali is due to lead Astana at the Giro d'Italia in two weeks' time.
Friday's final stage features three categorised climbs, and it expected that Landa's rivals - notably the massed ranks of Astana - will put in every effort to attack. Having been active throughout stage three, Bardet and Ag2r also look likely candidates to put in a challenge, particularly given they have four riders in the top 10.
Watch: How to make a Team Sky breakfast
Giro del Trentino 2016 result
Stage three: Sillian to Mezzolombardo, 204.6km
1. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana in 5-05-27
2. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 at 10 secs
3. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
5. Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
6. Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky
7. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18
8. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
9. Egan Arley Bernal (Col) Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale at same time
General classification after stage three
1. Mikel Landa (Spa) Team Sky in 10-37-23
2. Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana at 8 secs
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 10 secs
4. Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo at 15 secs
5. Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 20 secs
6. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 18 at 20 secs
7. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r La Mondiale at 24 secs
8. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18 at 26 secs
9. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 38 secs
10. Hubert Dupont (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale at 52 secs
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