Professional cycling can be an unforgiving sport at the best of times, with long, hard miles in the saddle, brutal climbs and unpredictable weather.
But that was ramped up another level for the Criterium du Dauphine prologue – at least if these photos are anything to go by.
The brutally steep mountain time trial course was no more than four kilometres in length but was thigh-numbingly steep, with some sections touching 20 per cent.
Alberto Contador won the stage – and claimed the first yellow jersey – in 11.36 as only four riders broke the 12-minute barrier.
Check out the best of the pain faces in the gallery below. They don’t call a time trial the race of truth for nothing…