It’s every professional cyclists worst nightmare, made even worse by the fact that these days the moment is captured on video and can be preserved for ever more.
Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) put in a great attack in the final of the third stage of the Giro Rosa 2019, speeding away up the final incline towards the finish line on the flat section of road across the cobbles.
The Australian had the finish line in her sights, looked behind to see a few bike lengths between her and Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) and lifted her hand off her bike to punch the air in celebration.
However, after Kennedy had turned back to look ahead, Vos started sprinting, giving everything towards the line. As Kennedy slowed down, convinced she had the win in the bag, Vos quickly pulled level and edged ahead to cross the line first.
As Vos takes the stage victory, the realisation of what has just happened dawns on Kennedy, who hangs her head as she crosses the line.
Kennedy was initially upset at her mistake, but was surprisingly upbeat about it all, putting a brave face on the proceedings. Speaking post-stage, she said: “Lesson most definitely learnt: always sprint beyond the line and never celebrate early.
“It hurts to come so close to my first women’s WorldTour win at the Giro Rosa today, but I can be very happy with my form and how my team executed our plan perfectly (until 3m to go).”
After the podium, Vos offered her condolences to the Australian and also congratulated her on a gutsy ride.
“I told her not to do that again,” the three-time world champion said. “It looked like we were going to be sprinting for second, but at about 200 metres to go I just thought ‘let’s see how far I can get’. It was hard and the last 100 metres I actually don’t know what happened.”
The Ecuadorian rider Jonathan Caicedo suffered a similar fate in 2018 as he celebrated too early at the Vuelta a Asturias.
He sat up to enjoy the victory and was edged into second place by Dmitry Strakhov.