Although Ben King got back to the peloton after his crash with around 65km left to go of the elite men's road race at the World Championships on Sunday, the American's efforts cost him, and he was dropped by the main contenders, trailing home in 72nd position out of 76 finishers, almost 16 minutes down on winner Alejandro Valverde of Spain.
It was a disappointing end to what has been a hugely successful year for the 29-year-old from Virginia, USA, and King explained how the chase back from the crash – which also saw one of the race favourites, Primoz Roglic of Slovenia, hit the deck – took its toll.
"I fell pretty hard and bruised my legs a little bit," King told Cyclingnews at the finish. "But the bigger problem was having to chase for an entire lap, and eventually catching back up at the bottom of the climb with two laps to go. We came back after a long chase, but then had spent a lot of energy, and got dropped on that climb on the same lap.
'It was an unfortunate crash, but I'm thankful that no one was really hurt and that I get to start the off-season healthy," said King. "And I fought on to the finish, so I'm proud of that."
"On a course like this, it's hard to get a lot out of your teammates, unless you're going to control the race," said King. "But that was more for teams like Spain or France, or Italy, so we had the freedom to kind of do our own races.
"The climb was pretty hard every lap, and in the last four kilometres of the climb on the last four or five laps, they started to lift the pace a lot, and that's really when guys started to get dropped," he explained. "But that was the hardest race course I've ever done."
The race in Innsbruck, Austria, spelled the end of the season for the Dimension Data rider, who can look back proudly on a season that saw him win two stages at the Vuelta a España a month ago.
"It was a really special season," said King. "I got to do my first year doing two Grand Tours" – the Vuelta and the Giro d'Italia – "and I got my first Grand Tour stage win, times two."
"I really hope to keep the momentum going now," he continued. "I didn't finish this season completely dead. I know I'm tired and I know I need to rest, but it's nice to get to stop before I'm completely sick and empty, so I can enjoy the off-season."