A brutal photo of an American cyclist after he lost a weeklong race on the very last climb

On Sunday morning in southern France, American cyclist Tejay van Garderen was leading a weeklong warm-up race for the Tour de France. He had an 18-second lead over chief rival Chris Froome, winner of the 2013 Tour. If the 26-year-old Montana native could just make it through the final stage and hold on to his lead in the prestigious Critérium du Dauphiné, it would be his greatest victory of his career.

But by the time the stage ended he lost the race — on the very last climb. Froome attacked, and while Van Garderen put up a fight, he couldn’t keep pace. After seven days of racing he lost the race by 10 seconds.

After the race photographer James Startt got a brutal photo of an emotional van Garderen:

Startt told Business Insider that he took the photo moments after Van Garderen crossed the line: “He just threw his bike down and put his head on the wall.” 

Van Garderen said, “Right now it is hurting a little bit, but sometimes that is a good thing.”

Cycling can be heartbreaking, no matter how courageously the riders fight.

Startt has covered 25 Tours de France. You can follow him on Instagram during this year’s Tour, July 4-26, and read more about him in this The New York Times feature from 2012.

You can watch the stage highlights below, and see more Dauphiné photos here.

[h/t peloton]

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