While Marcel Kittel and his Quick-Step Floors teammates celebrated their fourth stage victory of this year's Tour de France and tightened Kittel's grip on the green points jersey, his rivals could only bow their heads and try to find an explanation for the four-nil defeat.
André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) took to Twitter to thank his teammates for their hard work but disparaged his own performance. Others stopped after a deep breath to speak to the media, but none had the answer on how to beat Marcel Kittel in the Tour de France sprints.
Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) - third
Badly positioned by his own admission before the final kilometre, his acceleration could take him past early attacker Dan McLay but that was as good as it got.
"I did my sprint in the final kilometre OK, but before the last turn I was too far back, maybe in 14th place, and that was not ideal. But Kittel was also too far back and he got the win," Groenewegen said.
"The speed is there and I'm very happy with the team support. It's my best position in a Tour finish, but I'm not sprinting to finish third, I'm sprinting to win. We have to take advantage of the mistakes Kittel may make, and punish him for them. That's the only way we can win."
Dan McLay (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) - seventh
McLay was the rider to open the sprint, but little did he know that he was only leading out Kittel, who wisely had jumped on his wheel.
"I felt that the last few sprints I've hesitated, I've waited too long which is not good for my head and I needed to show the team I needed to take it on a bit, although maybe going from 350 metres was too optimistic," McLay said.
"I eased into it without kicking, I saw I was passing Kittel, but Fabio Sabatini (Quick-Step Floors) was coming back and I thought maybe if he gets on the wheel of Saba', maybe I'll be lucky and get 10 or 15 metres. But Kittel took the wheel and blasted past at the end."
Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha Alpecin) - fifth
After a strong lead-out from his Katusha-Alpecin teammates Kristoff lost momentum in the final turn and could not regain a speed to match Kittel's.
"I was in a really good position, we had [Jurgen] Roelandts [of Lotto Soudal] coming in front of us and it was Marco [Haller of Katusha-Alpecin] in front of me. When the race came into the final straight, Roelandts took a bad corner unfortunately, and we had to brake quite a lot.
"I don't know how the other guys in front could take the corner but at least me and Marco had to brake quite a lot. And then we accelerated all the way from there. But at 200 metres the other guys overtook us at like double speed. At the end, I managed to get to the same speed but then it was too late."
"I don't know where they built up all that speed but maybe if we'd come onto the final straight with a higher speed, then maybe that was the trick today because I felt actually really good in the sprint and we came in a good position. So losing so badly was a surprise."
André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) - 12th
His team manager Marc Sergeant says the team will do exactly the same hard work again in the closing kilometres, but Greipel by his own admission messed up the sprint.