As he pedalled towards the Team Sky bus following the third stage of the Giro d'Italia, Geraint Thomas was left with mixed feelings after coming through a tough, windy day with his GC options intact, but having missed out on a late split.
Classics-stye racing in echelons is an in-house speciality for the Welshman, and Sky were on or near the front as the critical moment for the splits approached, around 12 kilometres to go on the exposed finale of the stage to Cagliari.
But on this occasion a slight collision with another rider left Thomas too far back just as Quick-Step Floors made their final acceleration to go clear, and Thomas was unable to get past enough riders to make the split. Briefly trying with André Greipel (Lotto Soudal), eventually he fell back to the main group.
"I was in a good position when we started it," Thomas told Cyclingnews as he rode from the finish towards the team bus, "but then we hit the roundabout and I got knocked or something, lost a few places.
"Then Quick-Step went for it, and I was too far back. I tried to bridge it, almost got across, but it was just too much."
On the plus side, Thomas said, he had got through what was a difficult stage and three tough days in Sardinia unscathed. Furthermore, "obviously Bob Jungels (Quick Step Floors) was up there in the break, but I don't think any other GC guys were. It's 15 or 20 seconds, which isn't much."
Thomas later commented it would have been good for morale to be up there with the Quick-Step Floors move, but his teammate and co-leader Mikel Landa said the principal objective, making it through the initial stages in Sardinina unscathed, had been achieved.
"Maybe we were going for it a little too early in Sky when the splits started to go," Landa told Spanish newspaper Marca, "but just getting through these stages was really important."