Gianni Moscon refused to blame his failure to win Paris-Roubaix on a fall on the cobbles and a flat tyre despite leading comfortably with only 30km left to race.
The Italian made a solo dig 53km from the line and built an impressive advantage that hovered around the 1-15 mark, the chase groups behind unable to reduce the deficit they had to the Ineos Grenadiers man.
But a flat tyre that forced a bike change was quickly followed by a crash on sector seven, and 10 minutes later Moscon had been caught by a group of five that included eventual race winner Sonny Colbrelli.
An exhausted Moscon couldn't hold onto the group and finished 44 seconds back from the three podium finishers, Colbrelli, Florian Vermeersch and Mathieu van der Poel.
"This race is one of the most beautiful races and I tried to attack from afar," the 27-year-old said afterwards.
"I gave everything, [but had] a little bit of bad luck with that puncture and I was on the limit.
"When you are on the limit, you will make mistakes and crash, but you don't lose too much [time].
"And then when they came from behind, I didn't have the legs. I tried, fourth place... I will try again next time."
Put to him that he was cruising towards a near-certain victory, Moscon - who will be joining Astana in 2022 after six years with Ineos and Team Sky - disagreed.
"Who knows," he said. "You cannot say this. I mean, maybe, but the race went like this. I don't know how much I lost with the two things there.
"It has been a pretty spectacular race. I tried to play cards, attacking from afar, but it's done. The race went like this, and another Italian won."
It was Moscon's fifth participation in the Monument, and his result was an improvement from his previous best finish, fifth-place at the 2017 edition.
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