Tour de France hopeful Jakob Fuglsang's chances took a considerable blow when the Astana leader found himself on the wrong side of a split in the peloton in the closing stages of Monday's 10th stage from Saint-Flour to Albi.
The Dane was far from the only GC hopeful to lose time, as Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and EF Education First's Rigoberto Uran also all dropped 1:40 to the likes of Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal (both Team Ineos), Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and Mitchelton-Scott's Adam Yates.
Up front, Team Ineos turned the screw to the advantage of their two leaders, Bernal and defending Tour champion Thomas, putting the ball firmly in the British team's court going into the first rest day on Tuesday.
Hard work in the second main group by Fuglsang's Astana teammate Alexey Lutsenko at first helped bring the gap down to just 14 seconds at one point, but the juncture could never be made, and the gap stretched out again to over a minute-and-a-half as the sprinters in the front group – including Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan and eventual stage winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) geared up for the final dash to the line.
"I was in the wrong place at the wrong moment," Fuglsang admitted on his team's website. "I had just taken some bottles from a soigneur at the side of the road when some other teams started to pull, creating gaps in the peloton.
"We tried to close it, and we came close," he continued, "but in the end, there was a big time gap to the first group."
The 34-year-old – who started this year's Tour as one of the favourites following a strong first half of the season, during which he won the Critérium du Dauphiné and Liège-Bastogne-Liège – has dropped from ninth place overall to 16th, with a deficit of 2:10 to Geraint Thomas, who currently heads this year's group of GC contenders.
"It's not the way you want to go into the first rest day, but we know that there are another two weeks coming up where we will try to strike back," said Fuglsang. "I'm looking forward to the mountain stages and the team and I are ready for a battle there."
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