Chris Froome lost more time to Egan Bernal during the brutal mountainous second stage of the Tour de Dauphine.
The four-time Tour de France winner is now nearly 14 minutes behind Team Ineos team-mate Bernal, who is fourth in the overall standings led by Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic.
Roglic won the 135km stage, with Bernal 10th and Britain’s Froome down in 49th.
The Dauphine is the final warm-up race for many riders before the Tour de France, which begins on 29 August.
Bernal, who is likely to be competing with Froome to be selected for the Tour de France, has been extremely strong during three crucial warm-up races in France before the Tour.
But here he could not hold on to the wheel of Roglic, who was imperious in breaking away with 600m left of the hors category climb to the top of the Col de Porte.
Bernal was only 10 seconds behind, alongside many of the big names set for the Tour including Thibaut Pinot of Groupama FDJ and Bahrain-McLaren’s Mikel Landa.
What happened to Froome?
On what is regarded as the toughest stage of this five-day event, Froome showed more strength than in recent races but pulled back from the lead group, which included many of his Ineos team-mates, with 4.4km to go.
He gave a thumbs up to the camera as he dropped away, but it is hard to see how Froome can be selected for the Tour ahead of Bernal if the decision is based purely on form.
Ineos’ policy is that whoever is the strongest rider going into the final week of any Grand Tour will be backed by the whole team, and they would be unlikely to want to take three team leaders to the Tour.
Last year’s Tour winner Bernal won the Route d’Occitanie, nearly 10 minutes ahead of Froome, on 4 August and ended 26 minutes ahead in last week’s Tour de l’Ain.
Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour winner who is believed to be a better fit in the team for the Tour alongside either Bernal or Froome, led the Colombian up the mountain during today’s stage until pulling off the lead group with 2.6km to go.
Riders had to endure a huge hailstorm during the final climb, leaving some covered in cuts.
Afterwards, a few of the big names began to fade and lose ground on the leaders, including Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Julian Alaphilippe – who wore the yellow jersey for several days during last year’s Tour.
Ireland’s Dan Martin fell in a crash involving about 20 riders just a few kilometres before the final climb of the day.
Martin’s team Israel Start-Up Nation – for whom Froome has signed next year – reported he fell on his back and needed medical attention. But he rejoined and finished the stage.
Friday’s 157km stage, which begins in Corenc and heads on to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville, includes another hors category climb.
Second stage times:
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Jumbo-Visma) 3hrs 39mins 40secs
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/Groupama-FDJ) @8secs
3. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger/Bora-Hansgrohe) same time
4. Guillaume Martin (Fra/Cofidis) same time
5. Nairo Quintana (Col/Arkea-Samsic) @10secs
23. Adam Yates (GB/Michelton-Scott) @1min 37secs
32. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Ineos) @2mins 53secs
49. Chris Froome (GB/Team Ineos) @8mins 32secs
General classification after second stage:
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo/Team Jumbo-Visma) 9hrs 7mins 12secs
2. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/Groupama-FDJ) @12secs
3. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger/Bora-Hansgrohe) @14secs
4. Egan Bernal (Col/Team Ineos) @16secs
5. Guillaume Martin (Fra/Cofidis) @18secs
20. Adam Yates (GB/Michelton-Scott) @1min 47secs
28. Geraint Thomas (GB/Team Ineos) @3mins 3secs
59. Chris Froome (GB/Team Ineos) @14mins 5secs