Sacha Modolo (EF Education First-Drapac) came within a whisker of success in the opening stage of the Ruta del Sol on Wednesday, but he was finally pipped at the line by Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie).
Modolo got the perfect lead out from his teammates and came storming down the right side of the long finishing straight in Granada. And it looked as though the experienced Italian sprinter had seized the second win of the season for his new team.
A former double winner of stages in the Giro d'Italia as well as many other top races, Modolo was experienced enough to wait until just after the line to raise his arms, as the 30-year-old pointed out later on Twitter. But regardless of his mistaken belief in a triumph, by then there was no possibility of rewinding the clock to stop France's Boudat from squeaking past him on the far side of the finish.
Having learned of his painfully narrow defeat, the Italian quickly pedalled on for a shower in the team bus. But when he spoke to a small group of journalists afterwards, Modolo insisted that despite the setback, he could come away with some positive outcomes as well as the obvious negative one of losing.
"I saw the sprint from the helicopter TV shot afterwards, and initially I didn't understand how I could have lost this sprint," he said.
"I looked round after I crossed the line and saw there wasn't anybody near me but there was no one. Of course I didn't realise Boudat was on the far side of the road.
"I have to thank my colleagues for their amazing work, they did a brilliant job. It was a very close thing.”
Modolo says that given two other top Italian fastmen, Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), have already won races this season, he is feeling extra motivated to get his first result. He is also keen to take a victory to thank his new squad, where he says he feels he is settling in unexpectedly fast, despite the language barriers.
"I've got to talk in English, for sure, but everybody on the team is trying to help me improve," he said. "I really appreciate things like that."