André Greipel failed to win the sprint finish in the first stage of the Tour of Poland, the first time he has lost such a sprint since returning from shoulder surgery in May.
Team Columbia-HTC's Greipel, 27, had won 13 straight bunch sprints.
German Greipel knew exactly who to blame for the loss: himself. His team controlled the race and set things up perfectly, but when he went to sprint he realised that he had "made a big mistake." He had a larger gear than usual installed because he anticipated strong tailwinds, but there was no wind in the finale.
"In the finale I couldn't use the big gear as I hoped. The consequence is the first loss since my comeback this spring," he said. "It's a huge disappointment and I have to make it up to my teammates.”
"He had a bit of bad luck, it's a shame," teammate Adam Hansen told Cyclingnews. "He had to dig deep to get back to the front and spent too much energy before his sprint. It was real hard for him as it was his first loss."
Greipel opened this year by winning the first stage of the Tour Down Under and appeared to be on his way to defending his overall title in that race. However, he crashed into a motorcycle in the third stage and subsequently had to have surgery on his shoulder.
Since then, Greipel has won stages in the 4 Jours du Dunkerque, Bayern Rundfahrt, Ster Elektrotoer, Österreich Rundfahrt and the Sachsen Tour, wearing the leader's jersey in each of those races. He also won the one-day races Neuseen Classics and the Philadelphia Championship.
His 14 season victories are second most in the sport, with only teammate Mark Cavendish (20 wins) ahead of him.