Rory Townsend has revealed the pain of his defeat in the Midden-Brabant Poort Omloop in Holland.
The 22-year-old was second to Dutchman Joop Kooijman by a matter of inches in the UCI 1.2 contest, which started and finished in Gilze on Sunday.
It was a landmark result for Tim Elverson’s BIKE Channel Canyon outfit – the closest the team have come to a victory on the Europe Tour in this their maiden campaign.
But that knowledge does little to dull the pain for Townsend, who knows he could have been toasting a breakthrough success on the continent. He said:
“The big effort was made just before the final lap when there were six away. They had a little less than 20 seconds and I bridged across.
“That was my big effort. The seven of us just about stayed away and as we came into the final straight with a kilometre to go we were pretty much at a standstill.
“The Lotto rider took a flyer with around 600m to go. It was shut down but there were four of us all spread out.
“At the line I was coming in real hot but it just wasn’t enough. There wasn’t enough road. I was coming on so fast, through the line I was a bike length ahead of him.
“He said I’d got it but I knew he had just held on. I was so gutted. But the damage was done a little earlier in that effort.
“I tried to kick but was cramping in my quads and hammies. It was a seated sprint all the way, I couldn’t do much more.
“I guess I will be proud of the result in a week’s time. But at the moment it is still pretty raw.”
Townsend escaped in a group of 18 after nearly an hour of racing on the 37km circuit, which featured narrow roads and cobbled sections.
He praised his team-mates for their aggressive approach to the contest and admitted only bad luck prevented them having more firepower in the front group.
Alex Richardson, Matt Nowell, Harry Tanfield and Sam Lowe were among those attempting to light up the race only for a couple of punctures to hamper their progress.
“It took nearly an hour for the break to go but up until then we were all over it. Between Richie, myself, Matt, Sam and Harry, we were all over it.
“Unfortunately, Sam had a puncture and then Matt punctured literally at the very moment the break went. We were definitely hoping to get two in the break.
“Most of the teams had two riders in there, so from that point of view, we probably got away with a good result. We were slightly fortunate.
“The lads rode back in the bunch at one point to try to shake it up a little bit. It isn’t always the right thing to do but I would have done the same.
“Matt and Harry tried to ride across with a group later on, too. And again, that was the right thing to do in my opinion.”
German Alexander Krieger was third for Leopard Pro Cycling. Tanfield finished 44 seconds adrift of the winner in 18th, while Nowell was a few second further back in 23rd.
Lowe and Mitchell Webber crossed the line in the peloton, 1min 45sec down. George Atkins was at 1.57. Click here for the full result.
Prior to today’s race, BIKE Channel Canyon’s best finish in a UCI race was Chris Opie’s third place on stage one of the Tour de Yorkshire.
Townsend will now turn his attentions to a double-header in Stockton-on-Tees, with the Stockton Town Centre Race on Friday and Stockton Grand Prix next Sunday.