Cadel Evans's confidence is growing as Bradley Wiggins's recedes following the Giro d'Italia's first real mountain stage.
While Evans (BMC) passed the test by shadowing race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) up the climbs to maintain his overall second placing, Tour de France champion Wiggins could not keep pace on the final climb and lost more time.
Olympic silver medallist Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky) soloed to Tuesday's stage 10 victory, leaving his Sky team leader Wiggins to fare on his own before the final 4.4km climb to the summit finish of Altopiano del Montasio in what appeared to be a tactic designed to put pressure on Nibali's Astana team.
Nibali and Evans responded ably following the pace of Ag2r duo Domenico Pozzovivo and Carlos Betancur in the final few kilometres to finish together 31 seconds behind Uran and 37 seconds ahead of a struggling Wiggins.
Evans, the 2011 Tour de France champion, now sits 41seconds behind Nibali overall and now appears the Italian's major rival in the race with the ominous third week still to come.
Giro d'Italia 2013: Cadel Evans Post Stage 10 by Cycling Central
Nibali earned bonus time for his third-place finish and on an intermediate sprint to widen his lead on Evans from 29 seconds.
"It's probably not going to be a big deal at the end, but I would rather not concede time," Evans said.
"To maintain my position at this point is still very good. So far, so good. (But) we still have a lot of mountain stages to go."
Although aware of Wiggins losing time, the Australian said the only rider he was focusing on was Nibali.
"I don't know what was going on behind, of course, but Nibali is the rider I have to focus on at this point considering my place in classification.
"Every day that passes is looking more that way. But I don't know that we are even halfway into this Giro yet. So it may still be a little early to say."
Evans entered the Giro as one of the underdogs after a below par start to the year but has been firing on all cylinders so far at this year's race.
If Evans can claw back Nibali he'll join an elite group of riders to have won both the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, including Alberto Contador, Eddy Merckx and Bernard Hinault.
The Australian is still in line to lead his BMC team at this year's Tour de France.
SBS will broadcast daily Giro d'Italia highlights at 6:00pm on SBS 2, and will show eight key stages live on SBS 2 and online right here at Cycling Central.