Alberto Contador admitted he had no answer to Chris Froome after watching the Team Sky rider strengthen his grip on the Tour de France's yellow jersey with a stunning Stage 15 victory on Mont Ventoux.
Contador did his best to stay with Froome on the feared ascent of the 'Beast of Provence' but when the British rider kicked away 7.2 kilometres from the summit he easily pulled clear of the Spaniard.
"I had enough trouble climbing at our pace as it was so 'chapeau' (hats off) to him," Contador said. "There's really not much more you can say. Froome is very strong."
By the time Contador reached the barren summit of the mountain, he had lost a further one minute 40 seconds to Froome and is now four minutes and 25 seconds behind in third place.
"I've always been thinking about winning. That's the goal but every day there is a face to face situation (with Froome) he takes even more distance," added the Saxo-Tinkoff rider.
"But we'll see. In the Tour you never know what will happen until Paris. Now I just think about recovering and enjoying the rest day. Going for second position is secondary."
With a week in the Alps ahead before the finale to Paris, Contador knows the cards are stacked in Froome's favour but he remains hopeful.
"I don't think anyone can beat Froome uphill unless he has a bad day but let's see what happens in the Alps stages where several climbs may cause damage to his team," he said.
"The Tour is not over until Paris although the overall difference is already big."