Max Stedman revealed his frustration after a hat-trick of crashes put paid to his promising Volta Limburg Classic charge in Holland on Saturday.
The 22-year-old admitted morale was low in the Canyon Eisberg camp after a potential challenge for a top 10 in the UCI 1.1 contest was torn from their grasp.
Slovenian Jan Tratnik, of CCC Sprandi Polkowice, went on to triumph in Eijsden, shrugging off a wrong turn to put his six breakaway rivals to the sword.
Meanwhile, Stedman was left to wonder what might have been. Although he remains upbeat about his own form after feeling strong in the 197.5km battle. He said:
“I had three pile-ups within about 20km. It was terrible luck. I was on a good day and the boys had ridden really well.
“They were all over the early moves. We may have missed the main one but so did a lot of other teams.
“I’m just gutted. It was a nails, nails day. It was mega hard but I was telling the guys on the radio how keen I was for it.
“I was hoping I could do them proud and then it all went wrong. Everyone is disappointed but the luck just didn’t go our way.
“It is nice to know the legs are there. But everyone is pretty gutted right now because you want to walk away from these big UCIs with a result. And we definitely had the legs.”
While the team may have missed the decisive move after about 70km, they had been tireless in covering attacks in the early skirmishes of the Dutch contest.
Stedman, meanwhile, looked strong as he raced through the first three hours of action well placed in the front rank of the peloton.
Then it all began to unravel when the Crowthorne climber was brought down by a Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise rider who hit the deck immediately in front of him. Stedman added:
“Third time up the steep KOM (Gulperberg), I was in a front split of about 10 to 20. We went downhill, I was sat eighth wheel and following moves when a Topsort guy just slid out in front of me.
“I couldn’t do anything about it. I chased back on and we still had the likes of Opie, Paton, Hank and Tennant in there.
“The second time I slid out on a left-hand corner. I was furious because I wasn’t even banking it over hard. I was being cautious.
“But I caught up again. Opie and Paton gave me some big, big turns to get me back in and then me and Hank ended up in a ditch in some barbed wire together. I didn’t have the legs for a third chase.”
While disappointed, the team can be proud of their efforts in a field which included World Tour outfit Lotto NL Jumbo and a raft of Pro Continental teams preparing for the Ardennes classics.
Nippo Vini Fantini rider Marco Tizza was second to former QuickStep rider Tratnik, while Jimmy Janssens, of Cibel Cebon, completed the podium places.
But strong rides from Alex Paton, Andrew Tennant, James Lowsley-Williams, Louis Rose-Davies, Dexter Gardias and Chris Opie prior to the misfortune augur well for the challenges ahead.
Stedman, who clinched his maiden UCI stage win and overall victory in the Tour of Quanzhou in December, added:
“I should have known my luck had run out on Friday evening when my new phone dropped from the top of a bunk bed and survived.
“I thought wow, this is going to be a mega weekend when that happened. Sadly not. My luck ran out straight away!”
Click here for the full result of the Volta Limburg Classic. The next major target for Canyon Eisberg is the Chorley Grand Prix, the opening round of the Spring Cup, on Sunday, April 15.