While Team Sky's Chris Froome climbed his way up the Zoncolan to victory on stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia, and Mitchelton-Scott's Simon Yates – second to Froome on the stage – retained his pink leader's jersey, a number of the overall contenders slipped further down the classification, and have been left licking their wounds.
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ)
6th on the stage, 0:42 behind stage winner Chris Froome; 4th overall, 1:46 behind race leader Simon Yates
"I did everything I could, but I was at my limit today," Pinot told L'Equipe. "The others were simply stronger than me. I didn't feel particularly bad, but I had nothing else left.
"I've never ridden a tougher climb than that in my whole career, and have never suffered more than I did today. But it's the Giro: there's still a long way to go, with plenty more mountain stages to come, and so a lot still to do. I know that my goal of a podium place is still possible, so I'll try to recover from today and refocus on my goal."
Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates)
17th on the stage, 2:23 down on Froome; 13th in the GC, 5:33 in arrears of Yates
"I'm disappointed," Aru, who had refused to talk to reporters at the finish, said on his team's website. "I felt I was not strong enough. This is not the real Fabio Aru. During the stage, I didn't feel so bad, but I lacked power on the Zoncolan, and couldn't be competitive.
"This is not my level. It's an unusual experience for me, and together with the team we'll try to find out why I felt how I did. I don't know right now what the best way to approach the rest of this Giro is going to be. I'm disappointed because my teammates, me, everybody did everything possible, and we all made many sacrifices to try to be competitive here.
"Froome's performance was impressive. Never say never and – who knows? – I can only hope that things start to go better for me too."
George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo)
12th on the stage, 1:55 down on Froome; 8th in the GC, 4:04 behind Yates
"My chain jammed. My gears broke," Bennett explained after the finish, having suffered the mechanical issue soon after the start of the climb, leaving him off the back of the main group of contenders. "It's always hard when you're not in the group. All the motorbikes and everything in the way. It'll be hard to come back from this, but we can only try."
Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing)
19th on the stage, 2:35 behind Frome; 11th overall, 5:11 behind Yates
"I was expecting the climb to be bad and it was," Dennis, who rode a solid stage, said on the BMC Racing website. "I think anybody who is over 70kg is going to hate that climb, and anybody under 60kg is going to love it. I knew it was going to hurt so I just rode my own pace up it, and after that first kick there was a bit of a downhill. I thought if I could stay with them there and it didn't hurt too much, I could get a free run into the proper climb. From there on, I just rode my tempo.
"I'm happy with my ride. I was surprised by how much I lost still considering I was still, as I thought, holding good power the whole way up. It's good to see where I'm at again on a climb like this. I'm hoping it's not a climb that we do again very soon.
"Obviously I lost a lot of time to the leaders – to the guys on the podium – but the top 10 is still within reach, and the time trial [on stage 16] is going to help me a lot. Tomorrow is another hard day, but it will probably feel easy compared to today. It's not easy, though, so I need to keep switched on for 180km, and then it's a rest day, and then the time trial."
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana)
4th on the stage, 0:25 behind Froome; 6th overall, 3:42 behind Yates
"It was a super-hard day and the final climb was incredible," Lopez, who fared better than many of the big names and took the lead in the white jersey competition, said on the Astana website. "We started the day with the goal of winning the stage, and our team did a fantastic job to support me and to control the race. I felt good and I did everything I could today.
"In the end, I just set my own rhythm in the last few kilometres. I tried to follow Froome and Yates, and it almost worked. The climb was very steep until the end, and I just pushed hard to get the best result I could.
"Yesterday it was my mum's birthday and I wanted to win the stage as a present for her. But OK, now I'm in the white jersey, and that's a pretty good present, too. It's nice to have taken the lead in the best young rider classification.
"This was the first day of some hard days coming up in the second half of the race. I didn't win today, but I'm happy to be in the fight. Let's see what happens tomorrow, and in the final week."