Stage 12 of the 2015 Vuelta a Espana was one of agony for Maxime Bouet as he was caught within the final 200 metres after a long day in the breakaway to see his dreams of a breakthrough grand tour stage disappear. Stage 12 of the 2016 Vuelta a Espana was another day of despair for the Etixx-QuickStep rider who recorded his best result yet in a three week race.
The 29-year-old was at the front of affairs as the peloton rushed into Bilbao but when Jens Keukeleire (Orica-BikeExchange) hit out in the final few hundred metres, Bouet had to settle for second place.
"There was a stronger rider than me, that's all. I think I rode the finale of my life," said Bouet. "In the last climb I was OK but during the stage I was often on the limit. Everybody is tired. Such a shame to finish second. Last year in a Vuelta stage I was caught with 200 metres to go and this time I'm so close. I started the sprint with 300 metres to go because nobody had already gone."
Bouet, who is moving to French Pro-Continental squad Fortuneo Vital Concept from 2017, explained that a lack of self-confidence proved costly but he had to be content with a podium result
"The problem is that I didn't believe in myself. I'm going for a podium, not for a win. It's silly because I'm convinced I could win. I make mistakes because I don't believe in myself enough. Today I proved to some people I could do well on sheer strength, not only in breakaways. I can't wait for next year," Bouet said.
Bouet's last professional victory came in 2013 at the Giro del Trentino and vowed to continue his fight to end his streak.
"It's not bad to be on the podium of a World Tour race, but you can be sure that I'll not stop here and go for other strong results in the stages which are yet to come," he said.