MotoGP World Championship leader Casey Stoner looked a threatening figure as he stuck to the rear wheel of Jorge Lorenzo for the first ten laps of Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix.
But then fatigue kicked in and he was unable to match Lorenzo's pace, who gradually pulled away. Stoner then lost second place to Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who passed him on lap 22 of 28.
Stoner's lead over Lorenzo has now dropped from 44 to 35 points with five rounds remaining.
"At the beginning of the race I was cautious as there were a few spots of rain, once this cleared up I was pretty comfortable behind Jorge, I didn't feel the need to push and then the tiredness suddenly hit me," explained Stoner, a winner of seven races this year.
"It was hard to find the braking points and change direction on the bike, there was nothing wrong with the tyres, nothing wrong with the bike, the team did a great job and gave me a fantastic package, I'm just worn out.
"After the past few races I've had to put in a lot more effort in Laguna and Brno, riding a lot harder than I normally would. This together with the neck injury from Assen which I've been struggling to get strong again due to lack of training from the hectic race calendar, has finally caught up with me.
"For the second half of the race I was just too tired, simple as that, I'm very grateful to have finished on the podium. All credit to Jorge, he had a fantastic race, hopefully by Aragon I'll be fully fit and recovered".
The Aragon round will be held on September 18.