Matthew Busche (RadioShack Leopard) came within a whisper of winning his first race in over two years with a third place finish on stage 5 of the Critérium du Dauphiné. The 28-year-old slipped clear as part of a 15-man break early on in the 139-kilometre stage from Grésy-sur-Aix to Valmorel and was the last rider to survive as the break split on the final climb of Montée de Valmorel.
The 2011 US road champion had just a handful of seconds as he went under the kilometre to go banner but with the battle for GC raging behind him he was unable to hold off the challenge from eventual stage winner Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank Tinkoff).
When Froome and Contador latched onto the RadioShack rider's rear wheel the writing was on the wall, and when Froome kicked for the line the chance of a win for Busche evaporated.
"There's not much else to say other than I was close. I was within 200 meters of victory and that hurts," he told Cyclingnews at the finish.
"I actually felt pretty bad at the start of the climb. Then I found my own rhythm and kept going at my own pace. I'm just really gutted because I thought I had a chance."
"I could hear on the radio that they were coming but I just kept pushing. There's not much you can do when they start coming and you're already on your limit. To be so close to victory it's really hard."
Busche finished a creditable sixth at the Tour of California last month but is not currently scheduled to ride the Tour de France for RadioShack. Instead, he plans on taking a short break from racing before building up to new objectives in the autumn. However, his clear form means he still has a job to do in the remaining Dauphiné stages.
"My best opportunity is in a break but my first priority is to work for the team. Haimar [Zubeldia] is in a good position overall but I had free reign today and found an opportunity."