Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) was one of the big favourites to win Milan-San Remo but he finished the race anonymously in the main peloton, 6:12 down behind the front group of 26 riders that contested the sprint.
Despite only being 22 and having only ridden the race once, last year when he worked for Mark Cavendish, Boasson Hagen was given four stars for his chances by Saturday's edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport. Only Tom Boonen was given five stars, while eventual winner Oscar Freire was also given four stars.
Team Sky's tactics had been built around the quiet but hugely talented Norwegian. However, Boasson Hagen suffered with stomach cramps mid-way through the race and was in so much pain he was dropped on the Cipressa. The problems probably affected his food intake and left him empty for the final part of the race.
Juan Antonio Flecha and Thomas Lofkvist then took over as team leaders and were in the front group that formed over the Poggio, but neither has a great sprint finish and they were no match for the sprinters. Flecha finished 18th and Lofkvist was 27th.
It was not a great day for Team Sky in their first monumental classic. Greg Henderson crashed during the first feed zone on the Passo del Turchino and Chris Sutton was also in pain as he climbed off his bike outside the Team Sky bus. Henderson suffered a deep wound in his left knee. It was bandaged during the race by the doctor but he later revealed on twitter that the cut needed stitches.
"Edvald told us he had some problems during the race. We tried to help him get through it and convinced him to keep trying but it affected his race," senior directeur sportif Scott Sunderland said to Cyclingnews.
Boasson Hagen had a more succinct explanation. "Shit happens. There are a lot of other races coming up so I'm not that disappointed. The team was working really hard and that was the good about the race."
"I had some problems on the Cipressa. I don't know what caused them. It was raining, it was salty and there was a lot of dirt on the roads, so I could have swallowed something that affected my stomach."
Boasson Hagen seemed to recover quickly and will now head to Belgium for the cobbled classics. He won Ghent-Wevelgem last year in terrible weather conditions and will target the new, longer version of the race next weekend, after also riding the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen in Harelbeke next Saturday.