Domenico Pozzovivo stayed hunched over his handlebars for several minutes after the stage 3 finish in Roncone at the Giro del Trentino, fighting the pain of the 12% climb to the finish and the pain of finishing a close second to Cadel Evans (BMC).
The tiny AG2R-La Mondiale climber has not won a race since taking a stage at the Tour of Slovenia in 2012. That year he won the Giro del Trentino and a mountain stage at the Giro d'Italia but has only secured a series of placings since joining AG2R-La Mondiale.
"I thought I could drop him but he dropped me," Pozzovivo told Cyclingnews before getting a hug of consolation from his parents.
Pozzovivo made several accelerations in the final to kilometres which kicked up at 10% and then 12%, but Evans spun his gear while riding out of the saddle and was more than a match for the Italian.
"This short steep finish suited me but he was very strong and there was nothing I could do. Cadel was impressive today."
"I had some stomach problems overnight and so I wasn't great today, so I suppose have to be happy with second. But I really wanted a win."
Pozzovivo promised to try and do something on the longer, harder climb to the finish of stage four on Monte Bondone. The 19km climb has an average gradient of 8% with a final kick up to the finish at 10%.
"Tomorrow is another climb and an other day. Lets hope I feel better," he said.
He will lead the AG2R-La Mondiale team at the forthcoming Giro d'Italia.
"Hopefully I can be even better for the Giro d'Italia. There's time and racing here in the mountains will help me be ready for the Giro," he concluded.