Matteo Trentin admits he was beaten by the better rider in the three-man sprint that decided the 2019 World Championship road race.
Italian Trentin helped spur on the winning breakaway and looked to be the favourite for the sprint as the race entered the final straight.
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But as Trentin launched metres from the line, the rainbow jersey slipped out of his hands when underdog Mads Pedersen (Den) powered past 50m from home.
Speaking after the race, Trentin said: “I’m disappointed, because when you have the chance to go for the jersey, you have to go for it 100 per cent.
“One guy was better than me and that’s all, there is nothing to say.
“I can’t say I would have done something different to win. He was just better.”
Trentin was instrumental in the breakaway staying away from the peloton in the final, after he followed an attack by Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) and the pair bridged across to an existing move with 30km to race.
The group was quickly whittled down to five, with Trentin benefitting from the support of his team-mate Gianni Moscon in the breakaway.
Trentin said: “[Moscon] gave his all and he was amazing today. It’s also thanks to him that we could gain that advantage from the start. When we got across [to the break], it was only me, Mathieu and him really riding to have that advantage and put everybody else in the back.
“It wasn’t hard until the last two laps. Then we got across the guys in the breakaway and from there we were just full gas.
“We knew we had to commit to have a chance, because if they got across we were all done. It was cold and raining the whole day. You need to ride the front for the whole day. It was harder mentally, more than physically.”
Van der Poel was dropped on the final lap, with Moscon going the same way soon after having put in huge turns to support Trentin.
The three riders remaining came into the Harrogate finishing straight to set up the sprint finish, with Trentin the favourite to take the rainbow jersey.
But Pedersen proved himself the strongest of the trio, passing Trentin 50m from the line, leaving the Italian to the silver medal spot with Stefan Küng (Sui) taking bronze.
“When Gianni dropped off of the back, we knew we could all have a medal,” Trentin said.
“Everybody took their turns, nobody was playing games, and I was just trying to recover as much as I could for the sprint but there is no story – Mads won.”