Defending champion Remco Evenepoel claimed a stunning solo win on stage 14 in the Pyrenees a day after falling out of contention in the Vuelta a Espana.
The Belgian was third overall but cracked early on Friday’s epic stage 13 to see his red jersey hopes disappear.
However, after launching a long-range attack from a breakaway with Romain Bardet, he dropped the Frenchman late in the stage to win by over a minute.
“Yesterday was a very difficult day,” an emotional Evenpoel told Eurosport.
“I couldn’t sleep too much. I had a very bad night, a lot of negative thoughts in my head.”
On stage 13, the Soudal Quick-Step rider was dropped on the Col d’Aubisque with about 90km remaining and finished more than 27 minutes behind stage winner Jonas Vingegaard, who defended his Tour de France title earlier this summer.
“Today I woke up and I said to myself ‘just go for it, make the best of it’,” Evenepoel, 23, added.
“It was a super hard stage. I did a recon of it and I knew perfectly how the climbs were, how hard they were. Just super nice to take a second stage win. I think I can be very proud after yesterday.”
Race leader Sepp Kuss and his Jumbo Visma team-mates Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard, second and third in the general classification, finished the mountain stage from Sauveterre-de-Bearn to the Spanish border at Larra-Belagua in a group more than eight minutes adrift from Evenepoel.
American Kuss has a one minute and 37 advantage on Roglic as the riders return on Sunday for stage 15’s 158.5km route between Pamplona and Lekunberri, which has a 19.3km-long category three climb up Puerto de Lizarraga.
Stage 14 results
1. Remco Evenepoel (Bel/Soudal Quick-Step) 4hrs 13mins 38secs
2. Romain Bardet (Fra/Team DSM-Firmenich) +1min 12secs
3. Lennert van Eetvelt (Bel/Lotto Dstny) +6mins 33secs
4. Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa/Ineos Grenadiers) +6mins 35secs
5. Michael Storer (Aus/Groupama FDJ) +7mins 24secs
6. David de la Cruz (Spa/Astana Qazaqstan Team) +8mins 21 secs
7. Aleksander Vlasov (Rus/Bora-Hansgrohe) +8mins 22secs
8. Sepp Kuss (US/Jumbo-Visma) Same time
9. Wout Poels (Ned/Bahrain Victorious)
10. Juan Ayuso (Spa/UAE Team Emirates)
General classification after stage 14
1. Sepp Kuss (US/Jumbo-Visma) 51hrs 4mins 54secs
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Jumbo-Visma) +1min 37secs
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den/Jumbo-Visma) +1min 44secs
4. Juan Ayuso (Spa/UAE Team Emirates) +2mins 37secs
5. Enric Mas (Spa/Movistar Team) +3mins 6secs
6. Marc Soler (Spa/UAE Team Emirates) +3mins 10secs
7. Mikel Landa (Spa/Bahrain Victorious) +4mins 12secs
8. Aleksander Vlasov (Rus/Bora-Hansgrohe) +5mins 2secs
9. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel/Bora-Hansgrohe) +5mins 30secs
10. Joao Almeida (Por/UAE Team Emirates) +8mins 39 secs