Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) fears that he will miss a Tour de France time cut in the coming days unless his form improves.
The Australian finished over 31 minutes behind stage 10 winner Magnus Cort on Tuesday, the 28-year-old having being dropped on the first of the day's four climbs in the heart of the French Alps.
With two more even punishing stages to come in the next couple of days, Ewan admitted to press in Megève that he is not confident of surviving the succession of mountains.
"Not after today," he said. "But in the Tour sometimes you have good legs [and] sometimes you have bad legs. I hope today was just bad legs and tomorrow they'll be better.
"I definitely have to have better legs than I did today, otherwise I'm going to be in big trouble.
"I don't feel sick. Sometimes after a rest day you never know how your body is going to be, and mine wasn't very good today."
Four of Ewan's teammates accompanied him throughout the day, and the five-time Tour stage winner admitted that there were points when he thought he would be abandoning.
"I had really bad legs at the start and I got dropped quite early," he explained. "I had some teammates with me that thankfully got me through, but it was a pretty s**tty day.
"For a while, yeah [he was fearful of the time cut] because I was dropped so early. But we got into a pretty good rhythm with the team and I had quite a lot of time once I was on the last climb so I didn’t have to go absolutely to the maximum to the top, and it wasn’t too close [come the finish].
"At the start of the [final] climb I didn’t know what the time cut was going to be and I didn’t want them [his teammates] to stay with me in case the time cut wasn’t very big.
"In the end I think it was 39 minutes, so it was bigger than we expected. We thought at some stages that it was going to be 32 minutes, so it was better that if I went out of the time limit, four of them didn’t come with me."
The day's racing was interrupted by a climate protest, with racing coming to a temporary halt for 15 minutes.
Rather than the rest helping Ewan, however, he said that it worked against him. "That was the time when we were actually making up time, coming back to the bunch, and they [race directors] took the time from the top of the last [previous - sic] climb.
"It was a bit strange that they did that because in the end I think we lost another couple of minutes so it was pretty annoying."
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