The eight riders of Team Ineos started first in the 27.6km team time trial and so spent two hours in the hot seat as they waited for their Tour de France rivals to race and try to beat their time of 29:17, hoping they had done enough to win one of the most prestigious races of the season.
And so when last-off team Jumbo-Visma beat them by 20 seconds, the disappointment was obvious as Geraint Thomas, Egan Bernal, Gianni Moscon and the others left the podium area beyond the Brussels Atomium and rode towards their team bus.
The British team, then racing as Team Sky, finished second in 2018 and 2015 and third in 2013 and 2011 but have never won a Tour de France time trial in their 10-year history.
If Team Inoes had beaten Jumbo-Visma by ten seconds then Moscon could even have pulled on the race leader's yellow jersey.
That didn't happen but Team Inoes' glass was more than half full. It was a good day for their overall classification hopes. Thomas and Bernal gained chunks of time on most of their overall rivals, putting 58 into Richie Porte, 59 seconds into Romain Bardet and 21 seconds into Adam Yates and Jakob Fuglsang.
However after their two-hour wait in the hot seat, Team Ineos 'Performance First' philosophy took precedent above two minutes to share their thoughts and the Team Ineos bus left as quickly as possible. Even despite calls of 'Egan, Egan, Egan' from the Colombian crowd, desperate to see their national hero.
Thomas spoke immediately after his ride but not after being beaten by Jumbo-Visma.
The 2018 Tour de France winner was caught up in a crash on stage 1, tumbling into the barriers and over his bike but performed well even if he admitted it had not been a perfect ride.
Thomas led the team in, flanked by Bernal, Moscon, Jonathan Castroviejo and Dylan van Baarle. Luke Rowe and Wout Poels had given their all earlier and eased up, with Michal Kwiatkowski doing the same the finish straight.
"I have no injury issues, I was going pretty slow when I hit the barriers yesterday, I'm absolutely fine," Thomas explained, after also testing his legs with a morning session on the rollers.
"I think we rode well, we communicated well and a couple of times I thought we might have changed a little quicker but everyone was riding really strongly, so we can't to be too disappointed."
Team Ineos later published further comments on the team's website.
"Looking at GC, it's a good performance, but obviously we wanted to win. I think 20 seconds [to Jumbo-Visma] is a big enough gap to know a few mistakes didn't cost us the stage win. It was a positive day for sure," Thomas said.
Moscon used his time trial skills to help drive the Team Ineos line, apparently not knowing that a dominant victory over Jumbo-Visma would have given him the yellow jersey.
Moscon had been Team Ineos' best finisher on stage 1, crossing the line in 80th place but was unaware what that meant on stage 2.
Bernal had finished one place behind him, with Thomas down in 111th after his crash. Few riders lost time in the overall classification due to the crash being in the final three kilometres and so those riders' placing put Team Ineos at the bottom of the team ranking and so first off in the team time trial.
"I didn't know until I was told that I could take the yellow jersey because I was the fourth guy to cross the line but in the end we lost by 20 seconds - it's not so close in the end," Moscon said later.
"As a team we rode really well and that is the most important thing. I felt OK, it's only the second day in the Tour and there's a long way to go but the feeling is good."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.
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