Mathieu van der Poel was insistent that he was happy to finish on the podium at Paris-Roubaix, conceding that he didn't possess the necessary energy to win a sensational edition of the race.
Riding the Hell of the North for just the first time in his career, the Alpecin-Fenix rider was one of the pre-race favourites, in part due to his cyclocross skills that he admitted aided him on the wet, muddy pavé.
Despite riding extremely well from behind and making it into the final winning move of three, Van der Poel had to settle for third place behind winner Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) and Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal).
"I am happy with it," the 26-year-old told Belgian broadcaster Sporza. "I think I rode a very nice race. I was able to race the way I prefer to do: going down fighting.
"My legs were exhausted at the end and I didn't have any surplus left over the last 20 to 30 kilometres.
"I hoped I was the least broken of all in the sprint, but I was the most broken of all."
The Dutchman explained that he aimed to constantly refuel in the final hour of racing to give himself the best chance of winning his second Monument; almost exactly a year ago he won a memorable edition of the Tour of Flanders.
"I took a gel every five to 10 kilometres for the last 50 kilometres," he revealed. "I still wanted to have enough energy, but I came up short in the end."
TV pictures and still images from the race will instantly become iconic given the treacherous conditions, riders covered from helmet to shoes in thick, wet mud, only some of which appeared to have dried on their clothes and skin.
Van der Poel appreciated the historicalness of the race, adding: "It was very tough, but an edition to frame. I will not forget this one soon."
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