Simon Yates suffered a second year of disappointment during a ‘heart-breaking’ 2019 Giro d’Italia campaign.
The Brit returned to the Italian Grand Tour to redeem himself after a dramatic implosion in the 2018 edition, but it wasn’t to be.
Yates struggled with inconsistent form over the three weeks, opening with an outstanding time trial but losing sight of overall victory in the second TT of the race.
Despite some moments of resurgence, the Mitchelton-Scott rider continued to lose time and eventually finished eighth overall at 7-49 down on winner Richard Carapaz (Movistar).
Speaking after the race, the 2018 Vuelta a España winner said: “It was a very disappointing Giro for me personally, although disappointing isn’t the right word – heart-breaking is more accurate.
“I put a lot of effort into this, a lot of time and it has just not come together the way I was expecting.
“That’s okay. There’s always another Giro, another year, and I will come back at some point and try again.
“You can always learn and we will do that going forward.”
Yates looked brilliantly placed in the first week, finishing second in the first time trial behind Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) at a 19-second deficit.
But any hope of victory disappeared on the stage nine time trial, which was also won by Roglič, when Yates finished more than three minutes down and dropped to 24th overall.
The 26-year-old lost more time on stage 13 to Lago Serrù when his was dropped by the group of favourites and slipped to almost six minutes back on general classification.
Despite a valiant effort on stage 19 to Courmayeur, where he finished second on the stage to Richard Carapaz and took back 22 seconds on other favourites, Yates never reclaimed a chance of victory.
Mitchelton-Scott’s only consolation came on stage 19 to San Martino di Castrozza, when Esteban Chaves confirmed his arduous return from illness by winning the stage.
Chaves said: “It was a beautiful day to win the stage. From 12 months ago to now, we put a lot of effort and a lot of work in and if we look at the whole picture, the steps we’ve taken are really big.
“Last year I was so close to not finishing the Giro, and now I finished healthy and with one stage victory in the pocket.
“We arrived here with one goal – to put Simon as high as possible on GC, I think we did what we could do and this is our result.”
Yates returned to the Giro d’Italia this year after he came so close to victory in 2018.
He was the dominant rider in the middle period of the race last year, winning three stages and holding the maglia rosa for two weeks.
But he collapsed on the penultimate mountain stage, eventually finishing more than an hour down to race winner Chris Froome (Team Ineos).
On the 2019 edition, he added: “The team were great. For sure one of the best I have ever experienced in a Grand Tour. Really on the money from day one and for the whole three weeks the guys were there for me.
“I was never alone at any moment, whether it was on the flat with the bigger guys or on the climbs with the climbers, they were really amazing.”