Adam Yates missed out on the biggest stage race victory of his career by one second at Tirreno-Adriatico.
The Brit crossed the line one second outside of the buffer to second place Primož Roglič in the stage seven time trial.
Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) had held a 25 second advantage to Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) overall heading into the stage seven time trial.
But holding that gap over a strong time triallist like Roglič was always a tall ask, with Yates finishing just a second outside the time needed to win the race.
Lotto-Soudal’s Victor Campenaerts took stage glory in the European time trial champion’s jersey, beating the likes of Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb).
How it happened
A sharp test rounded out the 2019 Tirreno-Adriatico – a 10km out and back TT along the seafront of San Benedetto del Tronto.
The short and flat course held few features to slow the riders, with a fast chicane 2km into the route, a 180-degree turn at the halfway point and a 90-degree right-hander in the final few metres.
A 24km/h tailwind on the run out turned against the riders on the return, making it difficult to pace the effort.
European time trial champion Campenaerts, who set out early on the day, was very strong out on the course, setting a benchmark of 11-23 for the course.
Jumbo-Visma’s Jos Van Emden also put down a strong time and looked like he could topple the Belgian, but fading in the final metres he finished four seconds down.
All eyes turned to the world time trial champion Rohan Dennis, looking to take his first TT victory in the rainbow bands.
Despite being two seconds up on Campenaerts at the intermediate time check, Dennis faded and finished nine seconds slower than his fastest rival.
Then it was the turn of Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-Scott), who beat Dennis to the national title in January.
Durbridge lost time in the second half and crossed 15 seconds down on Campenaerts.
EF Education First’s Alberto Bettiol came in very strong later in the day to jump onto the podium in second, but was still three seconds slower than Campenaerts.
As the general classification contenders took to the course, only Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin looked capable to take the stage win.
The Dutchman and former world TT champion was strong but slipped away in the final 250 metres, eventually finishing eight seconds down, leaving the victory to Campenaerts.
Roglič, in second place overall, was seven faster than Yates at the mid-way point, setting up a tense run home to decide the GC.
Yates gave his all on the way back to the line as the seconds to Roglič ticked away, finally crossing the line just a second outside the time he needed to win.
Tirreno-Adriatico 2019 stage seven: San Benedetto del Tronto to San Benedetto del Tronto (10km)
1. Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal, in 11-23
2. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First, at 3 seconds
3. Jos van Emden (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma, at 4s
4. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First, at 6s
5. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 7s
6. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 8s
7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, at same time
8. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Bahrain-Merida, at 9 s
9. Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott, at 11s
10. Filippo Ganna (Ita) Team Sky, at 12s
General classification after stage seven
1. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma, in 25-28-00
2. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 1 second
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, at 30s
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 1-25
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-32
6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 2-34
7. Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, at 2-42
8. Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First, at 3-01
9. Sam Oomen (Ned) Team Sunweb, at 3-12
10. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 3-18