Jai Hindley earned victory on stage nine of the Giro d'Italia ©Getty Images

Australia’s Jai Hindley won stage nine of the Giro d’Italia in Blockhaus, as Simon Yates’ general classification hopes suffered a significant blow.

Yates had headed into the race as one of its potential winners, with the Briton having a third-place finish last year and a Vuelta a España title to his name.

The BikeExchange-Jayco rider, who struggled with a knee injury after a crash on stage four, was dropped on the steep final climb of the 191-kilometre mountain stage from Isernia to Blockhaus,

Yates eventually finished over 11 minutes behind a group of general classification contenders, appearing to end his title hopes.

Eritrea’s Natnael Tesfatsion was forced to abandon the race following a high-speed crash when descending as part of a two-man breakaway with Italy’s Diego Rosa.

Rosa was eventually caught and passed by a leading group of riders, including Portugal’s Joao Almeida and Spain’s Mikel Landa.

Hindley, France’s Romain Bardet and Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz also formed part of the group, with the trio left sprinting for the stage win.

Hindley crossed the line in a winning time of 5hrs 34min 44sec, with the remainder of the group awarded the same time as the Bora-Hansgrohe rider.

Juan Pedro Lopez held onto the race leader's pink jersey ©Getty Images
Juan Pedro Lopez held onto the race leader's pink jersey ©Getty Images

"It’s been a while since I last got my hands up in the air," Hindley said.

"Last year wasn’t really the sweetest, I had quite a lot of illness and crashes.

"I wasn’t feeling explosive today; I rode my own tempo.

"I was suffering, just trying to survive.

"We came with high ambitions as a team with three leaders.

"I wouldn’t write anyone off at this point of the Giro."

Spain’s Juan Pedro Lopez held onto the race leader’s pink jersey, limiting his losses on the stage to 1 minute 46 seconds on the leading group.

Lopez now holds a 12 second lead over Almeida heading into tomorrow’s rest day.

Bardet and Carapaz lie 14 and 15 seconds behind the race leader, with Hindley completing the top five at 20 seconds back.

The race will resume after tomorrow’s rest day with a scheduled 196km stage from Pescare to Jesi.