Tipped as a favourite for the second stage of Paris-Nice, with its sprint friendly finish in Commentry, Marcel Kittel's Etixx-Quick Step team were doing the lions share of the work to catch the breakaway in order to set up the German for the win but would be nowhere to be seen in the finale with Tom Boonen its best finisher in 50th place.
While Nacer Bouhanni and Michael Matthews were banging bars over the finish line, Kittel rolled over 12 seconds later in the second group on the road that also contained Etixx-Quick Step teammates Pieter Serry, Nikolas Maes, Fabio Sabatini, Niki Terpstra, David De La Cruz and Stijn Vandenbergh.
With five wins already to his name following the move from Giant-Alpecin to Etixx-Quick Step, Kittel's season is already far more successful than 2015 when he won just one one race, a stage of the Tour of Poland. However, the 27-year-old expressed his dissatisfaction with how the stage finished.
"It was a long day, which became crazy in the final 40 kilometers. The final was difficult and it was pretty hard to stay in the right position," Kittel said. "We tried to come to the front, as that was the plan, but we couldn't move up anymore in the last 5 kilometers. I am a bit disappointed, also because I didn't feel good today, but that's cycling: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose."
Stage 4 of Paris-Nice one for the climbers with the 3km Mount Brouily finish averaging 7.7 per cent although stage 5 is again suited to the fastmen and the Romans-sur-Isère finish is Kittel's next objective.
"Despite this, I remain upbeat, because there's one more chance for sprinters on Thursday," he added.
Etixx-Quick Step already has 16 wins in the 2016 season but are yet to taste success in a WorldTour event and will be hungry to break that streak in the days to come with its chances doubled as it sends a strong squad to Tirreno-Adriatico, starting today.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.