Yates completed the 156km stage in 3:25:53, outsprinting Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) to the line in a thrilling finish.
As a result, Yates extended his lead on the general classification ahead of stage 12 tomorrow.
Just over 30km into the race Astana Pro’s Luis Leon Sanchez (Spain), BMC Racing’s Alessandro De Marchi (Italy), Androni Sidermec-Bottecchia’s Fausto Masnada (Italy), Bardiani CSF’s Mirco Maestri (Italy) and Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia’s Alex Turrin (Italy) broke clear from the peloton.
Their lead grew to over three minutes but began to fluctuate as the race neared the halfway mark. The five then managed to hold a steady lead of just over two minutes in the last 50km.
Maestri and Turrin fell behind from the break as the leading trio went ahead. But their lead had dwindled to around one-and-a-half minutes from the peloton with 20km left.
The break were caught by the peloton with just 5km left, before Lotto Soudal’s Tim Wellens (Belgium) and Quick-Step Floors’s Zdeněk Štybar (Czech) broke clear.
Yates then powered out of the chasing bunch to surge past the leading duo. Dumoulin, who was second on the general classification, tried hard to chase Yates down but to no avail as the Brit held on to take the spoils.
“We decided before the stage that we wouldn’t chase for the stage, because normally in a finish like that there are some faster guys who have won before me,” Yates said afterwards.
“That also proved true – guys like Tim Wellens and Lotto-Jumbo – they came to the front to chase.
“They were obviously confident for the finish. That was not the plan, but if it came back I would of course try.”
Stage 12 will comprise a 214km route from Osimo to Imola.