Kennaugh finished 16th after trying to set his teammates up with an attack on the penultimate climb of the day. The Manxman went clear with 22 kilometres to go but was caught by Michael Valgren (Denmark) who led the race into the final ascent of the Höll. He held on over the steep climb and came home 1:21 after the winning group, just behind Nairo Quintana.
Kennaugh's attack had been an attempt to set up teammate Simon Yates, but the lack of race radios meant that he wasn't aware of his teammate's departure from the race.
"It was way harder than I expected. It was just raced full gas from the start, and the pace was just really hard every lap on the climb," said Kennaugh. "But, unfortunately, Simon wasn't feeling great, so we just did what we could. It's hard without radios to know who is where. I was following moves with two laps to go with the plan we had, but I didn't know Simon had stopped. So, in hindsight, I would have just waited, but that's racing I guess."
The result is Kennaugh's best at a World Championships and comes after a difficult year with Bora-Hansgrohe that saw him miss much of the early part of the season due to illness. While Simon Yates was one of a number of high-profile abandons, Adam Yates came over the line in 37th place, four minutes down on the winner.
The World Championships were Matt Brammeier's first as the head coach for Great Britain and they held high hopes of coming away with something to show for it. Although that didn't happen, Brammeier was pleased with how the team rode throughout the day.
"I think expectations were as high as they can be today. We all sat on the bus last night and we really believed that we had a chance to win," Brammeier told Cyclingnews. "Of course the eventual outcome wasn't what we wanted, but each and every one of them put everything out there today and we stuck to the plan. I think that everyone rode really well, and we animated the race from start to finish. If you haven't got the legs in the final, then you don't have the legs. There's nothing you can do. I think we're all happy."
Brammeier said that having the Yates brothers as their protected leaders for the road race was something of a gamble with both riding the Vuelta a España earlier this month, where Simon rode to victory.
"I think you expect that you can carry that form through from the Vuelta, and it was a bit of a gamble really," said Brammeier. "He was absolutely on it there and so was Adam, but this is a different kettle of fish. It's an almost seven-hour race. Maybe we lacked a bit of endurance there but it is what it is, and we put everything out, there so I'm happy."