By Gregor Brown in Meerbeke
Manuel Quinziato fought hard in the face of an overpowering Team Quick Step in Belgium's Ronde van Vlaanderen on Sunday. The Italian of Team Liquigas remained in front until the penultimate climb of Kapelmuur with 16 kilometres remaining.
"I started the race to win," he said. "No one was thinking of me, but remember I was going well last year – second at De Panne. I finished fourth this year."
Quinziato entered into action with a group of six after the Paterberg, near kilometre 187 of the 260-kilometre race. He remained with Quick Step's Sylvain Chavanel as the race re-shuffled. Chavanel's teammate and eventual winner Stijn Devolder joined the pair at kilometre 240.
"Quick Step was truly strong. When Devolder countered, he was working hard with Chavanel, and I thought that it was going to be possible for me.
"I thought I was going to stay with Devolder on Kapelmuur. Instead, I had cramps. It never happened to me like that before in my career. I lost the wheel of Devolder."
Quinziato also explained that his 23-tooth rear cog may not have been enough for the steep slopes that the riders faced on the 16 climbs. The 29-year-old finished the day in 32nd. It was his highest place in the race – he finished 37th last year and 84th in 2005.