Chris Horner (Radioshack) continued his fine spring form, finishing tenth in Amstel Gold Race on Sunday. His arrival on the start line was success in itself, with the American forced to drive 1,800 kilometres from Spain.
During the race Horner was in the thick of the action but ran out of gas on the final climb as Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) soloed to victory.
"That hurt," Horner told Cyclingnews as he crossed the line and ground to a halt.
"Coming into the last climb all I could think of was that I wanted it to be over. It's just pain and suffering. My legs were just done when we hit the last climb, they were done."
Horner was forced to drive a staggering 1,800 kilometres from Spain with teammate Tomas Vaitkus after the Eyjafjallajökull volcano ground European flights to a standstill. Vaitkus did the lion share of the driving, with Horner taking just two one-hour stints at the wheel in order to protect his good form.
"I'm used to flying between Europe and the US and racing the next day. I'm used to travelling it comes with the territory. It might have affected me, it's always possible, but I guess Gilbert didn't have that problem," he said.
The race itself was run off in almost perfect conditions, with clear skies and little to no wind. Horner believes that the fine weather meant that the race wasn't selective enough and that had rain or crosswinds played a part, it would have split into a more selective finale.
"The weather is too nice. Everyone at this level can climb on these kind of mountains. They need to be two times longer," Horner said.
However with two Ardennes races still to play, Horner added that his form has held since wining the overall at Vuelta al Pais Vasco and that the tough climbs in Liège - Bastogne - Liège will suit him better. "The form is there, I like it. Hopefully when we get to Liège where the climbs are a little longer I can do something."
But today Horner had no answer to Philippe Gilbert, who attacked numerous times, including on the last climb, to take the win. Horner had earlier tried to counter moves by Serguei Ivanov (Katusha) and then Cadel Evans (BMC) but was brought back by Rabobank on the run in to the final climb, the Cauberg.
"When Gilbert first accelerated I went but everyone went too and when he went again everyone just started blowing and couldn't do anything about it."