Alejandro Valverde conceded his dreams of a second Vuelta a Espana title are over after he slipped 10 minutes behind Nairo Quintana following stage 14.
The 2009 champion could not keep pace with his Movistar team-mate or Team Sky's Chris Froome on Saturday, Valverde falling back on the final climb of the 196-kilometre stage.
As Quintana and Froome injected pace up the Col d'Aubisque Valverde had nothing, and as a result he lost over nine minutes by the finish line.
With such a huge deficit and only seven stages remaining, Valverde knows his general classification hopes are over, but he intends to support Quintana in his quest.
"For me it is not a surprise what happened to me today, especially if we consider the difficulty of the stage," said the Spaniard. "It was a very tough day.
"For this to happen was always a possibility. In the final climb I did not have a good feeling. I could not hold on when the group went strongly.
"Really I've run out of strength. Clearly it was not the day.
"The important thing is that we continue with Nairo leading and we have to be on top form for him, working as we have already done from the start of the race."