The BMC combination of Cadel Evans' experience and Tejay van Garderen's youthful promise was expected to be a serious threat to Team Sky in this year's Tour de France but after the first mountain finish, the team's hopes of overall victory were left in tatters.
Evans finished 4:13 behind Chris Froome, going deep and fighting to limit his losses for much of the climb up to the finish.
Van Garderen seemed to throw in the towel much sooner, suffering from the heat. He quickly gave up tying to limit his losses and finished 12:15 down.
Evans tired to recover in a BMC van but was pursued and filmed by a pack of television cameras. After cleaning himself up he accepted it had been one of the worst days of his career.
"It was my worst day at the Tour while I'm healthy. I was nowhere in the mix and with a few little problems. I knew I wasn't at my best but I didn’t expect to be this far off the best. I was too far away to even know what was going on up front," Evans said.
Evans tried to fight back, true to his never-die temperament, but revealed he had already gone deep on the Col de Pailhères after Team Sky set an infernal pace.
"Sky rode a tempo that was really consistent from when they started on the Pailhères until they hit the bottom of the climb Ax 3 Domaines. Not many people could match it," he said.
"I was already having a hard time on the Col de Pailhères and that's always cause for concern but Ax 3 Domaines isn't quite that high and when you're in the running for GC, a seven-kilometre climb isn’t usually a place where you have problems.
"I had a few physical problems getting into the mix and I couldn't push myself to my max. When you see 20 guys riding away from you, you know that you're a long way off the pace."
Van Garderen suffers in the heat
Evans is 4:36 down on Froome in the overall classification. He is 23rd overall but van Garderen hopes his team leader can climb back up the GC and perhaps finish in the top ten overall.
"We’ve just got to keep morale high and still take something out of this Tour. We still have a strong, motivated team and we can try to win some stages and try to get Cadel up there in the top ten."
The 24-year-old American revealed he suffered in the heat.
"On the first climb we did, the heat really started to get to me," he said, clearly despondent after such a blow to his own Tour de France ambitions. He is 44th overall, 12:38 behind Froome.
"It was strange because I'd done a lot to prepare for the heat with a sauna and I'd done good rides in the heat in San Luis and at the Tour of California, which were all really hot. I didn't think it'd be an issue but for some reason today it really seemed to affect me.
"There's nothing serious, it just felt like I couldn't have the power. I got a little bit of chills but I wasn't massively dehydrated. I felt my normal self minus 30 percent. We can’t miss that 30 percent when it's the Tour."
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.