Can Nicole Win The Challenge Without Her Love Interest Laurel?

The Underdog broke down when her 'Invasion' crush was eliminated

The muscle behind the Underdogs began to atrophy on this week’s episode of The Challenge, and as the team of winless contestants headed into the finals, Nicole proved to have the tallest mountain to climb, literally or otherwise.

After watching the previously unbeaten Laurel fall victim to Camila in “Knot So Fast,” the game’s final Fortress match, Nicole broke down and admitted she felt defeated. While she and Laurel didn’t necessarily get off on the right foot — Laurel initially took issue with Nicole’s superfluous flirting with Cara Maria — Nicole confessed that she had completely fallen for Laurel in recent days. And in an unusually vulnerable moment, she revealed to Nelson that she wasn’t sure she had the stomach to push through her pain.

“Nelson, I swear to you, I thought it was gonna be a win-win: I had my girl the entire time…and now I’m like, ‘Oh, she’s not gonna be there,'” Nicole said as sobs began to pepper her speech. “It hits you, dude. Like, I said, ‘I’ll never fall for nobody, no matter what.’”

“We would talk for hours in the bedroom just about family sh-t,” she lamented.

But Nelson insisted Nicole was better off flying into the final mission solo and reassured her that she’d always had the heart and strength to claim first place.

“Not having nobody makes you stronger,” he said. “And you have us. We’re your team. We’re your heart now.”

“But I wanted her here,” Nicole sobbed. “I don’t want to be strong.”

“This woman really impacted me,” Nicole continued in a separate interview. “I feel like I’m getting emotional talking about it, but, like, you really did, man.”

And while emotion coursed through Nicole in the hours leading up to the final mission, she seemed more than eager to get going once the race officially began. Still, there’s no telling whether she — or anyone else — will have the temerity to push through the looming tests.

What do you think — can Nicole endure the pain and pull out a Challenge win without Laurel to cheer her on? Or is she too distracted, and is her chance at Invasion gold gone? Share your thoughts, and see how Nicole performs next week when the finals continue Tuesday night at 9/8c!