Team Saxo Bank held the upper hand in Thursday's Giro d'Italia stage to Benevento with one extra rider in the final escape group, but the team's Jason McCartney and Lars Bak were unable to respond to the sprint of Michele Scarponi.
"We should have done better. We were both strong, but maybe we were too aggressive," Denmark's Bak told Cyclingnews.
The two made an escape group of 25 soon after the stage left Sulmona. Other teams had more than one rider, but Team Saxo Bank was the only team to have two in the final split with 18 kilometres remaining.
"It was perfect, we broke the move down from 25 to eight," USA's McCartney told Cyclingnews. "I just did not have the strength, the Quick Step rider [Dries Devenyns] and Danny Pate were just too strong."
Bak and Félix Rafael Cárdenas rode free in the final six kilometres. Danny Pate, McCartney, Devenyns, Dmitry Grabovskiy and eventual winner Michele Scarponi joined them.
"I tried to lead it out for Bak since he is the better sprinter," said McCartney.
Cárdenas and then Pate passed the duo, and then Scarponi came by for the win. Bak finished fourth and McCartney seventh.
"I am a little disappointed," Bak said, "because now I have been in the finale two times, but without the win. Today, I felt like Jason or I could have won."
There are three teams who have dominated Giro d'Italia's wins: Diquigiovanni, Team Columbia-Highroad and LPR Brakes. Team Saxo Bank has zero, but the pressure is not getting to its riders.
"I was not thinking about my sponsor today, honestly, I was thinking about winning the race," Bak said.
"Everyone has their own personal pressure and everyone wants to win," McCartney said. "That is why you put a number on your back, to win a race."
The team's sprinters, Juan José Haedo and Matthew Goss, will have a chance to win with Saturday's stage to Anagni. McCartney hopes to have another chance on the last day, a 14.4-kilometere time trial in Rome.