Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) dug deep to try to gain three seconds on Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) in the final 10km time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, but when the clock was stopped and the final classification confirmed, the 30-year-old Sicilian had to be content with second place, having held off Geraint Thomas to stop a Team Sky one-two.
Caruso set a time of 11:55, but Kwiatkowski was significantly faster in 11:34, ensuring the overall victory and the winner's trident trophy by 24 seconds. Caruso could take heart from holding off Thomas, who moved past Mikel Landa (Movistar) to complete the 2018 podium, eight seconds down on Caruso.
"I think this is a really good result for me. Everyone knows the story of this week and how the race went. I'm happy," Caruso said.
"I know that Michal Kwiatkowski is really strong in time trials; I knew it would be difficult to beat him today, but I tried to do my best and at the end, it is still a nice result. Geraint Thomas is a really good rider, too, so I'm pleased to hold onto second place overall."
Caruso started fast and was still within reach of Kwiatkowski at the 4.4km time check. However, he was unable to hold the pace and preferred not to take too many risks on the rain-soaked course.
"I started fast because I know I had to give it everything because we were fighting for first and second, and every second counted," he explained.
"It was right to take risks and I did. I perhaps paid for it in the final kilometres, but I've no regrets. I know it would have been difficult to win. We know that Kwiatkowski and Thomas are great riders and great time trialists."
No longer the understudy
Caruso came into Tirreno-Adriatico as the team leader at BMC after Richie Porte was struck by a bronchial problem. He has often been an understudy and finished 10th at the 2017 Tour de France when Porte crashed out. He prefers to keep his ambitions in check to avoid the pressures and responsibilities of team leadership.
However, after a second place overall at the 2017 Tour de Suisse and now second in a testing Tirreno-Adriatico, he is optimistic about what his future holds. He is due to ride the Tour de France in support of Porte but will have more freedom and responsibility at the Vuelta a España.
"I think I can be satisfied with this week," he said. "It's the start of doing even better in the races ahead. I'm developing as a rider. I'm 30, I'm not done yet and I think I can still do even better in the future."
Caruso's second place and Rohan Dennis' stage victory ended a successful week of racing for BMC. Team Sky took the overall victory but BMC beat them in the opening team time trial.
"Overall, this has been a great week for us," directeur sportif Max Sciandri said before part of the team headed north to Lake Garda, north-east of Milan, to rest up and recover for Milan-San Remo while others headed home.
"The guys have all been fantastic, and it all started with winning the opening team time trial," Sciandri said. "We obviously won the leader's jersey on the first day. We were then able to keep it after stage 2 and then take it back on the mountaintop finish.
"I think Damiano has really stepped up as a GC rider. He came into the final stage just three seconds back, and I think that shows that is has been a very successful Tirreno-Adriatico for us. We've seen that Damiano is really maturing as a rider, and I think he can take a lot of confidence out of this week. He has shown that he can be up there with some of the best GC riders out there."