Ben Swift was the best-placed British rider in last week’s World Road Race Championship in northern Spain.
The Anston cycle star was well positioned for much of the showpiece event, but the fast pace and attacks over the final ascent of the Mirador swung the balance away from the remaining sprinters.
Team Sky’s Swift placed fifth in the bunch sprint, which translated to 12th overall, after seven riders had edged clear in a thrilling finale.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) launched a brave attack across the Ponferrada dam with seven kilometres remaining and held on over the grinding final climb to capture the fabled rainbow jersey.
Simon Gerrans (Australia) claimed a silver medal, finishing tantalisingly close to a celebrating Kwiatkowski, while Alejandro Valverde (Spain) took third.
After the race Swift was quick to pay tribute to the victorious Kwiatkowski, as well as Great Britain team-mate Pete Kennaugh who attacked in the final third of the race.
“Kwiatkowski is such a class act,” he admitted.
“He’s had his team on the front all day and he definitely deserved that win.”
“Chapeau to him.”
“I gave it my best shot. It was just that last steep climb that really, really hurt. I got myself into a good little position. It was just a hard day.”
“Pete was fantastic today.”
Swift was up against some of his Team Sky team-mates, the professional outfit sending 12 riders from seven nations to the event.
Kennaugh was quick to repay the compliment to his fellow Team Sky rider.
“Just to be in there in the mix in the final is hard enough in these kind of races. As a team we did a really good ride today,” he said.
“Twelfth for Swifty is a good result. It’s the World Championships.”
“I just gave it my best shot and then once I got caught by the group I just tried to do what I could for Swift.”
Swift looked to be sitting pretty in the latter stages of the race, before they all bunched back together with 30km to go.
And after another attack had been reeled in, Kwiatkowski put together one of his own that proved to be the most decisive of the lot, taking it up early and storming home for victory.