It was a case of too little too late at the World Championships for Greg Van Avermaet, who was just a few seconds away from catching on to the back of Peter Sagan's wheel when he made his winning attack over the steep cobbled 23rd Street to claim the world title.
"I think I was really good and I took the right moment to go but then Sagan came over me and on the cobbles it was not so easy," Van Avermaet said. "I was just one or two metres behind him over the top but then he had a few pedal strokes stronger than me.
"I tried to push with everything that I got but I just didn't have it. It was just a few seconds and I think if I was there I would have been able to sprint for a world title, but he was gone."
According to Van Avermaet, he had no help from Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway), who latched on to his wheel as the Belgian tried to catch up to Sagan. He said that had the Norwegian helped in the chase they might have been in the mix to sprint for the rainbow jersey.
"It was hard to close it because Boasson Hagen didn't want to work with me and then you know it's hard to stay on the front," Van Avermaet said. "If there is one guy on your wheel that doesn't want to work and then there is one guy in front who is going for the world title then my race was over in the moment.
"I saw that Boasson Hagen was there, I hoped that he would directly work with me because he's pretty fast also in the sprint but he didn't want to work with me, he just wanted to wait for Kristoff.
"If Sagan is gone then the world title is also gone."
Belgium lined up with a strong team with Van Avermaet as one of three leaders along with Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert. Boonen had been involved in a decisive breakaway with two laps to go, while Gilbert positioned himself near the front of the field during the closing laps.
"I think we did a pretty good race and if we had won everything would be perfect," Van Avermaet said. "I tried to win myself and gave everything on the second last climb, I just came up a few metres [short], and I was not good enough to follow Sagan, but then you get back in the peloton and the race was over."
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