The Giro d'Italia is due to continue tomorrow. A group of 20 or so riders had finally unmoored itself from the peloton and was bobbing clear when Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott) spotted some risky stowaways.
The instinctive decision proved a sage one. In gratitude, the British did not fight a teammate for the stage victory.
"I thought that there would be only 10 riders in the break, but I saw a lot of riders were in it".
"It's unbelievable, " Chaves said. I didn't have to do anything because Esteban was up the road. Simon Yates was the first to wear a leadership shirt on the race of the Grand tour.
"It wasn't really the plan for Esteban to go in the breakaway, but it was very insane in the start, a lot of guys went up the road and he just happened to be there".
"I said to him as soon as I caught him that he could take the stage, because if we had enough time then I was going to take the [pink] jersey", Yates explained.
Yates reeled him in near the end of a brutal 15km climb, but was happy to go without the stage win, safe in the knowledge that he would have the maglia rosa on his back. "I had a bit of a gap so I took the chance and it worked out". Today was special, of course, to win on Etna. It's a dream to have the stage, pink jersey and blue jersey.
The Englishman accelerated away from the favourites group with Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), and joined his team-mate Esteban Chaves who had been in the all-day 28-man move. The pre-race favourite Froome, meanwhile, is 1:10 off the lead in eighth place overall.
Dutch rider Dumoulin is now second overall at 16sec behind Yates.
It is a second stage win in the Giro for Chaves (after his success in 2016) - a remarkable achievement for the 28-year-old who was told he might never cycle again after a serious crash in 2013. As he stood atop the podium after the stage, Chaves held a shoe up for the cameras.
"It felt really good", the Yates told Eurosport. "The leader is the one who is wearing the pink jersey".