Samuel Sánchez's podium ambitions took a big hit in Saturday's individual time trial.
With Wiggins, Nibali, Evans, Henao, Scarponi et al. finishing within a minute of winner Alex Dowsett, Sánchez proved the big loser of the day by ceding a damaging 3:17.
The Italian TV producers made sure to avoid putting 'Samu' on the screen even once during his ride, but replays of him crossing the line showed a totally spent Euskaltel team leader, the pain obvious across his face.
A mid-race puncture certainly didn't help Samu's cause, but the 35-year-old, ever the optimist, wasn't downbeat upon finishing the stage.
"It was a very hard time trial, a time trial in which big gaps could be opened up", he said. "I wasn't feeling superb, and my puncture didn't help either, but we managed to get through a decisive stage and we've still got out pre-race goals within reach.
"We came here with the objective of winning a stage and fighting for an elevated GC placing, and we're still in that fight after the first week".
One who struggled even more was overnight leader and one-time team-mate Beñat Intxausti. The affable Amorebieta-native can be considered an expert in the discipline on his day, but the Movistar rider looked to be running on empty right from the off and ended up finishing way back in 41st place, more than four minutes in arrears.
As a consequence, Intxausti dropped to 14th overall, one place and seven seconds ahead of Sánchez.
Euskaltel's top man on the day, Egoi Martínez, came in a decent 27th, but he'll be left to rue what might have been hadn't it been for a crash halfway through.
Results (full results here):
- (1, Alex Dowsett (Movistar), 1:16:27)
- 27, Egoi Martínez, 3:03
- 29, Samuel Sánchez, 3:17
- 82, Robert Vrecer, 5:58
- 84, Jorge Azanza, 6:01
- 117, Gorka Verdugo, 7:11
- 122, Ricardo Mestre, 7:18
- 166, Ioannis Tamouridis, 9:12
- 181, Miguel Mínguez, 10:42