With his pride wounded, Alberto Contador refused to surrender his Tour de France title without a fight on Friday as the three-times champion showed his mettle on an epic 19th stage.
The 28-year-old Spaniard, who lost ground after suffering on the ascent to the Col du Galibier on Thursday, attacked on the first corner of the Col du Telegraphe on Friday and kept on attacking throughout the stage.
Although he lacked the energy to seal the stage win at the top in l'Alpe d'Huez, Contador showed that he is not content to coast into Sunday's Champs Elysees parade.
"Yesterday, in my bed, I told myself: 'Are you going to just stay in the peloton with no pain and no glory? I could not stand the idea of leaving this race without doing anything," he said.
"All I could think of today was attacking."
Contador could just have waited until the final climb to attack, a policy that probably would have allowed him to clinch the stage victory that eventually went to Frenchman Pierre Rolland who pounced with two kilometres remaining.
"It would have been more simple to wait for the finale to go, because I had good legs," he said.
"But that wouldn't have been the same. I've been on the back foot for the whole Tour, with knee problems. If I hadn't attacked from the gun today I wouldn't have been so happy."
"Today I wanted to have fun and I did. It was incredible. So many people supported me. If the crowd also enjoyed it, I am happy too."
Contador, unbeaten in all the grand Tours he has entered since 2007, is sixth in the overall standings 3:55 behind Luxembourg's Andy Schleck with Saturday's individual time trial the only competitive stage remaining.
Asked if he would now target a podium finish, he quipped: "Right now, I just want to rest because I've had an incredible year."
Contador won the Giro d'Italia earlier this year but has been waiting an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after he tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol in last year's Tour.
The procedure has been dragging on since last September, with the Spanish federation clearing him of any wrongdoing, only for the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to appeal before CAS, whose ruling is expected in early August.