Chris Lawless was denied a chance to challenge in the final stage sprint of the Tour Down Under where he crashed in the last lap on Sunday.
The Team Sky rookie had been hopeful of improving on the sixth place he recorded a week earlier in the prelude criterium but rolled over the line well after André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) took the stage honours.
Lawless through the WorldTour opener assumed the role of team-mate Kristoffer Halvorsen, who suffered from fractured metacarpal when he collided into a barrier a few hundred metres from the finish of the teaser event.
“I was always ready for it because [sports director] Brett [Lancaster] had told me if anything happens, I’ll be sprinting,” he said.
“That started from the crit when I was leading Kristoffer out and when I heard the crash thought I better keep sprinting in case it’s him, and it was.
“I tried slipping into it [the role] as easy as I could but at this level it’s difficult.”
The 22-year-old said he struggled in the heat along with the rest of the peloton that endured consecutive days of temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius.
The conditions and a bolstered field made for one of the most competitive races here in recent years, and a tough introduction to the WorldTour.
“Personally, I’ve not got the results I wanted to. It’s been difficult getting the leadout together, and when we have got it together we’ve either just got the timing wrong, or it’s been carnage at the finish,” Lawless said.
“The lads have been good but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”
Sky entered the Tour Down Under with a new-look line-up that included younger riders from its Classics squad as well as burgeoning Colombian climber Egan Bernal, who finished sixth overall and won the best young rider classification.
“I’ve been let off lightly with the amount of work I’ve had to do at this race because we’ve always had the sprints in the back of our mind as well as the GC,” Lawless said.
The Tour de l’Avenir stage winner has designs to ride the cobbles this year, but which races will likely depend on his form.
“I’d like to perform well, help the team out, impress the team there with the work that I do,” he said.
“I think [I’m] more a Classics rider but it’s hard to tell. I’m still only 22 so there are a lot of things that could happen and I don’t know how I’m going to mature in these next few years.”