By Gregor Brown in Cholet
Paolo Longo Borghini spent 208 kilometres in the escape only to come up short when the artilleries were launched. The 27 year-old Italian's dream did not come true in stage three to Nantes, but now sits 35 seconds off of general classification leader Romain Feillu.
"I think we started to believe we could make it when we arrived with 25 kilometres remaining," Longo Borghini explained to Cyclingnews of the four-man escape that went in the first kilometre. "It was a dream; it is a dream of every cyclist. Now I just miss the win. Maybe the next one."
The Barloworld was the first rider dropped when the heat was turned up by escape companion and eventual stage winner Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis). The Frenchman fired his missile at 1500 metres remaining.
He declared he felt that his legs were burnt in the final 30 kilometres. "We went from the gun and worked hard in the final kilometres to make sure to arrive clear. Unfortunately, I arrived in the finale with my legs not at their best. When the first attack went I felt the legs would not go."
Longo Borghini has been on double duty in the team that took two stage wins in last year's Tour de France. His legs were likely feeling the burn from working for the team's leaders.
"In the last two days I was working hard: the first with Mauricio Soler, to bring him back into the group, and pulling for Baden Cooke and Robert Hunter in stage two."
Longo Borghini is not a noted time trialist, but at just 35 seconds he could stand a chance at taking the leader's maillot jaune from Feillu on the 29.5 parcours around Cholet.