For Kiwi cyclist George Bennett, stage 11 of the Giro d'Italia could be seen as a microcosm of his race so far.
He is 2m 9s behind now but doing better than some of the bigger names.
But Yates s Colombian team-mate Esteban Chaves had a disastrous day as he was distanced on the opening climb of the 244km stage from Penne to Gualdo Tadino and lost more than 25 minutes to drop out of overall contention having started the day second at 32sec.
His closest rival - Tom Dumoulin - finished two seconds in arrears, and it looks like the duo will be the main protagonists as the race reaches the second half of its script.
Another hilly stage is scheduled for Wednesday with a 156-kilometer leg from Assisi to Osimo that concludes with a short but steep climb.
Dumoulin, who is a time-trial specialist, was two seconds behind Yates in second.
That lead is still held by Simon Yates. He is 1m 4s ahead of Thibaut Pinot in third. "I need as many seconds as I can get so maybe I need to go for more bonus seconds".
Giro d'italia-2018: Yates won the mountain finish and increased the gap from his pursuers
"It was a tough day, it wasn't as long as yesterday, but it was another pretty brutal finish", said Froome.
"Tom (Dumoulin) is the one who is worrying me, he's still too close", said Yates who is also King of the Mountains. I'm super happy for myself but, foremost, for my team Bahrain-Merida. "I'm not very good in a sprint from a slow speed so I launched and I increased my speed as much as I could". "I know I ll lose some time there".
Froome was quick to highlight the hard of Stage 11 and how his crash ahead of the start of the race in Israel was still impacting him. 'I feel as if I've been progressing throughout the race, still just chipping away and hoping to do the best I can. "I'm going to keep fighting".
He needs a miracle to revive his attempt to become the first rider to win three Grand Tours in a row since Frenchman Bernard Hinault in 1982/83.
"I certainly haven't given up hope, " Froome said. They were swiftly joined by Fausto Masnada.
Zdenek Stybar and Tim Wellens attacked and opened up a small gap late in the race but couldn't respond when Yates made his move.
Bennett has finished in 12th on this morning's stage - his fourth straight top-20 finish - crossing the line 23 seconds off the pace, and losing time to four of the five riders ahead of him on the general classification.
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