Having finished seventh overall in the Vuelta a España last month, Nicolas Roche was one of the dark horses heading into the world championships but admits that a long season left him tired and unable to go with the finale attacks that decided the race.
The talented Irishman made the first selection when the peloton split with five laps of the punishing 15.9km Geelong circuit remaining but couldn't follow the moves when attacks started coming thick and fast with two laps to go.
"I was in the front until two laps to go and the legs were okay but it's just that the distance was that bit too long, a bit too hard and after such a long season every effort counts. I was just running a bit short," Roche told Cyclingnews.
With only two other teammates, one of which was in the early break [Matthew Brammeier], Roche didn't have a big backup crew but wasn't looking for excuses after the race. He admitted that he was extremely tired after his Vuelta exertions and that meant it was just a case of asking a little too much for too long.
"I was riding close enough to the front so it wasn't like I needed someone to always bring me back up like a proper Classic - I can't use the excuse of lack of teammates," he said.
"I was feeling good but the race was just that bit too long. My condition is okay but I'm just not recovered completely [from the Vuelta] and it was just a little too long."
Having ridden the Tour and the Vuelta in the same season for the first time, Roche said without hesitation that 2010 had been the best season of his career thus far. While he continues to develop year-by-year, his goals have increased with his progression in stature and he's optimistic he can back it up with results in 2011.
"I'd like to now go and get a top 10 in the Tour and maybe come back to the Vuelta with higher ambitions," he explained.
"I wasn't far off the top five [in the Vuelta] this year and I had a not-so-great performance in the time trial which kind of handicapped my top five because I think I could have made it. I still have a few things to work on, which is good because it means that I'm still a work-in-progress."