Estaban Chaves was one of many riders who found the final climb of Stage 16 of the Vuelta a España too much for them.
Chaves, who started the day in fifth position, saw his podium hopes disappear 2.5km from the summit as the pace increased. By the end of the climb, he had slipped to sixth on GC, 2m38 back.
“They started the day very conservatively but when they turned up the gas they really turned it up hard,” sport director Neil Stephens said. “All of the teams suffered a lot and even Esteban had to go a little deep on the second last climb.”
“Going into the final climb he really had to pace himself. He did a fantastic job getting into the last kilometre and then unfortunately the really steep stuff took a bit of a toll on him and he lost a little bit of time.
Chaves wasn't the only rider who suffered on the steep slopes: Movistar's Alejandro Valverde also cracked on the climb, dropping to ninth overall at 3m58.
The time gaps created on the Ermita de Alba mean that only four riders now have a realistic chance of winning the Vuelta: Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Fabio Aru (Astana), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin)
The difficulty of the day also saw many riders further back in the peloton air their grievances on Twitter - particularly about the length of the post-stage transfer for those not in the top ten on GC (who were ferried to their hotels by helicopter).