Tadej Pogačar complained that he was unable to sprint as he would have liked to after finishing fourth at the Tour of Flanders.
The UAE-Team Emirates rider was an active presence in the race in the final hour, helping to form a select group of five and then jumping clear with Mathieu van der Poel with 20km to go.
But a track-like sprint meant that Dylan van Baarle of Ineos Grenadiers and Groupama-FDJ's Valentin Madouas were able to come back and contest a four-man sprint, with Van der Poel triumphing and Pogačar settling for fourth, the latter remonstrating his displeasure as he crossed the line.
"In the moment, I was really disappointed because I couldn't do my sprint," the Slovenian said. "I was boxed in.
"But that's cycling: sometimes you're boxed in, sometimes you have an open road. I was not mad to anyone; it may have seemed like this, but I was just frustrated with myself because I couldn't do the best 100m to the finish."
The double Tour de France winner, who was racing De Ronde for only the first time in his career and had mused beforehand that he was out of his comfort zone, attacked on the Oude Kwaremont and then the Paterberg, but was unable to dislodge Van der Poel.
His attack on the Kwaremont, he revealed, was his plan from the race's outset.
He added: "We said on the second or last climb I would go there. I tried my best because it's a really difficult one, one of the longest climbs but that was good for me.
"I really like this climb and the atmosphere up there just gave me goosebumps. I think I love this race."
He wasn't, however, able to get the better of Van der Poel, no matter how many times he tried.
"There was a moment when he came next to me and I tried to accelerate but there was not enough in the legs to drop him," the 23-year-old added.
"He was on fire today. He was really good. I think we were more or less the same on the climbs, and I tried to beat him in the sprint, but it was not my day."
A crash after just 20 kilometres of racing resulted in Pogačar losing his power metre, but he denied that the absence of the technology hindered him.
"In the end maybe it was better without the numbers," he said. "It wouldn't have changed anything [if he had it].
"Here you cannot only rely on power data; here you need to go full gas on the climbs, when the race goes, and there are even points in the race where the sports director is talking on the radio, walking us through the sectors, the corners. It doesn't matter that I didn't have mine."
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