Ahead of the penultimate-day time trial at the Tour de France, many saw Primoz Roglic's lead over Tadej Pogacar as unassailable, and suggested the real drama could come from the battle for the final spot on the podium.
While the first half of those predictions was proven wrong in spectacular fashion, there was still a big shake-up in the podium fight, with Miguel Angel López (Astana) not only falling off it but plummeting a further two places.
The Colombian started the day third overall, 99 seconds ahead of Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), but that proved nowhere near enough as the Australian placed third on the stage. López was caught and passed by both Pogacar and Roglic, and placed 45th, some four minutes and 56 seconds down on Porte.
In the overall standings, he not only lost his third place, but was passed by Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) and Enric Mas (Movistar), and so dropped to sixth overall, 6:47 down on race winner Pogacar.
"It was a difficult day, a complicated day. I didn't feel good today, and that's how it went," López said, according to El Tiempo.
"We have reached the final act of the Tour, we've done well, and it went like that in the end. We can be happy, but we were one day short."
This was a debut Tour de France for López, who won the Tour de l'Avenir back in 2014. He has enjoyed success at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España - finishing on the podium of both and winning two stages at the latter - but this was his first taste of the Tour.
He rode a strong race until the penultimate day. Although he lost a little time on the second day in the Pyrenees, he looked assured in the second and third weeks, and claimed a memorable stage victory in the Alps atop the Col de la Loze.
However, while that high-altitude, steep, and irregular climb was perfectly suited to his abilities, he crashed back down to earth on Saturday in his achilles heel, the time trial.
"This sixth place, well, it's my first Tour. I dreamed of being on the podium, then of staying there. The key was that we fought until the end and it turned out the way it did. Someone has to lose, and today I fell short," he said.
"I tried. I was good throughout the Tour but you have to get to the end. I managed to be in the fight for the podium, and that's important. There's always going to be one or more losers. It was my first Tour, I enjoyed it, and I was in the fight."
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
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.