Romain Bardet said he felt "completely lost" during Stage 16 of the Tour de France as his GC ambitions imploded.
Bardet came in 3'36" down on the yellow jersey group - tumbling from fourth to ninth in the standings - at the end of the arduous 178.5km run from Carcassonne to Foix, which was completed once again in extreme heat.
It also contained the treacherous Mur de Peguere - with a max gradient of 18% - and Bardet, who revealed he experienced fever-like symptoms throughout, was simply unable to follow the leaders when the pace was upped by the likes of Tadej Pogacar, who spent most of the day breaking the leaders apart with repeated attacks.
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Speaking to France TV after rolling in alongside Team DSM team-mates Andreas Leknessund and Chris Hamilton, Bardet said: "I was really super feverish. I had headaches.
"It was one of the worst days I've had in some time.
"It was a nightmare and hats off to my team-mates who were there at the beginning and at the end. Without them I don't think I would've finished the stage.
"I don't know if it's because of the heat. I really didn't feel well, I had chills, my temples were throbbing. It was a terrible day and I didn't see it coming.
"I hope to bounce back, the desire will be there.
"It wasn't even the legs. I was just completely lost. I had nothing.
"My head was pounding and I was really off the mark."
Hugo Houle took the stage to make it Canada's first stage win at the Tour since 1988, while Jumbo-Visma's Jonas Vingegaard retained the yellow jersey after being able to stick with Pogacar during another action-packed day of racing.
It doesn't get any easier for Bardet - or the rest of the peloton - on Wednesday with the second Pyrenean stage ahead, which involves three Cat. 1 climbs and a mountain-top finish at Peyragudes.
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