Egan Bernal put in a battling performance on stage 15 but dropped out of the top 10 at the Tour de France as Tadej Pogacar won atop Grand Colombier.
Despite pushing right until the end, last year’s Tour de France winner admitted he had been struggling since the first climb on the stage.
He said: “I was not going well from the first climb to be honest, I was almost dropped there, I was suffering from the first climb. I told the team I was not good, but then I was trying to fight until the final and give my best.
“It’s difficult to say how I felt, the feeling was that I was empty - I had no power. When the other riders did a big acceleration, I couldn’t go too hard to follow, but then I recovered really quickly, but my body couldn’t react as normal.
“I’m the number one and I tried to give my best, but finally there were riders who were stronger than me."
Bernal slipped down the lead group on the second Cat 1 climb, the Col de Binche, but rallied ahead of the final ascent, the Grand Colombier and was part of a select GC group until he started to slip back with 13.5km remaining.
He added: “Even if I start the last climb with the other GC riders I felt I would be dropped, I wanted to give my best, not just for me, but for the team and for the respect I have for the race.
“Theres no excuses, I tried to fuel my body in the best way possible, but I don’t know, I didn’t have the legs. The other riders have been stronger than me and we have to accept that.”