Adam de Vos (Rally Cycling) promised to give it his all to defend the yellow jersey on Cameron Highlands at the Tour de Langkawi, but ultimately he was unable to hold off stage winner Artem Ovechkin and slipped to 22nd overall.
Still suffering from a number of wounds sustained in a stage 1 crash, the 24-year-old was supported by his teammates on the queen stage of the race, but once the attacks came thick and fast, he couldn't hold the pace despite his best efforts.
"Man, probably," he answered Cyclingnews when asked if he'd ever gone so deep in a race. "I think I am pretty good at putting myself in the box and suffering. That was up there, though. I think I have been sitting on the ground for 15 minutes already, and I don't plan on getting up any time soon. I was pretty deep in the box."
De Vos crossed the line in 54th place, 3:34 down on stage winner and new race leader Ovechkin, alongside teammate Kyle Murphy. Freewheeling to a stop, De Vos leaned over his top tube after dismounting before sitting then laying on the ground completely spent by the effort, the efforts of the climb, road rash and 38 degree heat all contributing to his fatigue.
"We knew it was going to be a tough ask with my condition and riding the breakaway, but hats off to the other teams who put it to us and were able to drop me on the climb," De Vos told Cyclingnews and Eurosport after several minutes of recuperation. "I had my awesome teammates behind me, so I rallied a bit and just when it kicked up there in the last six kilometres or so, and that is when I cracked and they got away.
"For sure it is disappointing, but me and my teammates did everything we could. They all rode awesome for me, and I don't think I have too much to be disappointed about, and we still have a few stages for the sprints with Eric [Young]."
De Vos moved into the race lead when he capitalised on the miscalculation from the peloton on stage 3 into Kuala Terengganu. Despite now losing his lead and dropping out of the GC, De Vos and Rally will now turn their attention to delivering Young to a stage win in the three remaining sprint stages of the race.