Remco Evenepoel expressed his disappointment at not winning the opening stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, but added that he should not be considered likely to win the race outright.
The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider briefly posted the fastest time on the 7.5km circuit in Hondarribia, but he was unseated by defending champion Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma who finished five seconds better than the Belgian.
It's the second successive time trial that Evenepoel has placed second in, finishing 11 seconds off Filippo Ganna on stage one of March's Tirreno-Adriatico.
That memory was still fresh in the 22-year-old's mind after settling for best of the rest again in the Basque Country.
"I don't think I could have done anything else," he said. "The TT was quite short, technical and a bit dangerous, and if you wanted to make a good result you had to take risks.
"You needed a lot of balls to take risks, and I went as fast as I could. I think Primož took the major advantage in the last cobbled climb. I think he took a lot of seconds there.
"But, yeah, what can I do? It's the second time I am second in the first stage of a WorldTour TT. It's sad to be second again."
It is Evenepoel's fourth stage race of the season, and with five hilly stages to come he has plenty opportunities to overturn his five second deficit to the leader and defending champion Roglič.
The Belgian, who has just returned from a two-week altitude training camp, won February's Volta ao Algarve, but he doesn't expect to be victorious in this race, despite feeling in better form than at Tirreno-Adriatico where he finished 11th overall, his worst result in a stage race he has completed since 2019.
"I have tried to be here in good shape because it's an important one for me," he said. "It's a pity I didn't win today but there are still five more days to go.
"To win is going to be difficult with a guy like Roglič. Him and [Tadej] Pogačar are the best GC guys in the world, so I will just try to be on the podium. I will take it day by day, and see where it takes me."
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