LA PIERRE-SAINT MARTIN, France (AFP) - Chris Froome's Tour de France rivals admitted on Tuesday he was too strong as the Briton decimated the field in another stunning victory.
The 30-year-old Sky leader accelerated away up to the 10th stage summit finish at La Pierre-Saint Martin at the end of a 15km climb to break the resistance of almost all his rivals.
Nairo Quintana had the most success at limiting the damage but arrived third on the stage at 1min 04sec from Froome and is now third overall at 3min 09sec.
"It was clear that we wanted a quick race and the whole team worked hard for that," said the 25-year-old Colombian.
"I thought I was going to climb well and that was the case, but Froome was stronger than me.
"Of course I would have preferred to win but (Sky) were very strong.
"I'm in good shape physically and mentally. I'm calm, I feel good but it's just that my rival was stronger than me today."
The 2014 Giro d'Italia champion said his team would attack over the coming days but for the moment Froome seems out of reach.
"For now we're going to fight for second place, but we'll also fight for the yellow jersey in the remaining stages, and there are a lot."
American Tejay Van Garderen is second at 2min 52sec and well within Quintana's reach after coming 10th on Tuesday at 2min 30sec.
Van Garderen, 26, has made no secret that his aim is to finish on the podium rather than challenge Froome and he was satisfied with his performance on the brutal 15km climb to the line.
"It was extremely difficult, those first 10km were really steep and Sky definitely put on quite the performance," the BMC leader said.
"I tried to do my best to stay with them but when it became too much I just tried to stay in my rhythm and just focus on getting to the top.
"I don't think today was my best day but it wasn't all bad, I'm still keeping a good GC position.
"The first mountain day's always tricky, we've done almost two weeks without climbing any real mountains so it can be a shock to the system, especially after a rest day.
"But I feel like I should feel better from here so I'm definitely still happy with where we're sitting."
CONTADOR COULDN'T BREATHE
That was not the case for Alberto Contador, Tour winner in 2007 and 2009, and reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali.
Contador finished 11th at 2min 52sec and is now sixth overall at 4min 04sec - one place and one second behind Froome's domestique Geraint Thomas.
"I knew it would be an important day for me, I didn't want to lose a lot of time. I don't know why but I couldn't breathe," said the 32-year-old Tinkoff-Saxo leader.
"I felt terrible, really bad. I couldn't breathe, in fact I still can't," the Spaniard added when speaking to the media just after the finish.
"When you can't breathe, it's impossible. I tried to increase my pace by getting out of the saddle but it felt even slower, whereas with my style it should be the opposite."
The biggest loser, though, was Nibali, who came home 21st at 4min 25sec and is now 10th overall at 6min 57sec.
"It was difficult, I couldn't follow the pace, I didn't have any puff and I couldn't pedal as I didn't have any strength," said the 30-year-old Italian.
"I couldn't even follow my (Astana) teammates, it was a really difficult day for me.
"At first I tried to resist and see how things went but then I had to give up after a few kilometres (of the final climb) and just ride a slower pace up the mountain."