American cyclist Floyd Landis was wearing the leader's yellow jersey in the Tour de France until Wednesday when it seemed he just plain ran out of steam.
Runners call it "hitting the wall," and in cycling parlance he "bonked".
While broadcasting the race, the Outdoor Life Network commentator described the moment, saying, "Here's Floyd Landis glued to the pavement and agonizingly struggling a thousand deaths."
The rider who had overcome a painful hip injury to remain competitive during the race was suddenly out of contention, written off, more than eight minutes behind the new leader.
Even Landis was shaken, for a moment. But he managed to keep fighting, and the very next morning the rumor was that he and his Phonak team were going to go for broke.
"Word got around … and they said 'please don't do that' and I said 'go drink some coke, because we're leaving on the first climb, if you want to come along,'" Landis said.
From that first hill, Landis' team set a blistering pace that left the rest of the field in the dust.
His determination was obvious as he made up more than seven and a half minutes and went from 11th place to third, amazing the commentators who said it was the "greatest bike race" they had ever seen.
Floyd Landis' strong performance at the Tour de France is happening while the cyclist is in need of a hip replacement.
Doctors have compared his hip to a piece of rotten wood. Landis can't run, and walks with a limp. It's so painful that he can only manage to get on his bicycle from one side. But once on, he is very, very fast.
"Although Floyd goes through a lot of pain every day when he rides his bicycle, his dream of winning the Tour de France is by far and away something he will go through any amount of pain, any amount of training, any amount of sacrifice to get through," Landis' coach Robbie Ventura said.
He's entering the final stage of the race, a world away from where he grew up in Lancaster, Pa.
He was raised by a Mennonite family and was not allowed to watch movies or TV.
As a teenager he acquired his first bicycle and discovered racing. Today his mom walks over to the neighbors' to watch her son compete in cycling's greatest test.
"It's the hardest race in the world," Landis said. "I came here to win the race and I'm not done fighting yet."
For him, the dream of winning the Tour de France comes down to Saturday's time trials, when the cyclists race against the clock, one by one.
Because of his hip pain, Landis has to take a strange pose, balanced over the very tip of the saddle, but since he's so good at time trials, other riders are now trying to copy the unusual position.