Stage 12 at the 2017 Giro d'Italia ended in a fast, bunched finish and Jasper Stuyven freelanced his way as best he could and ended with a top ten finish.
It was, of course, not a result he was aiming for, but on his own, vying against other team's speed, power and interest to keep their fastmen up there, protected, he found the tables are easily turned against a lone wolf.
"It was just a straightforward sprint today, and it was really important to have a team around you, and we don't really have the guys here for that," explained Stuyven. "So I did my sprint, or my effort before the sprint even started, and then I got bumped out of a wheel just before the last corner. After that, I just free-wheeled to the finish line because I was not really sprinting anymore since I had done the effort before."
Soon after the drop of the flag, three men formed the day's escape, a futile effort in a race of 224 kilometers, and the peloton had an easy-to-control breakaway to contend with in the longest stage of this year's Giro.
The inevitable catch was timed perfectly at seven kilometers from the end; there were no surprises for the fast men today, and it played into a textbook sprint finish.
I just free-wheeled to the finish line because I was not really sprinting anymore since I had done the effort before.
In the mad dash for the line, no one could match the speed of Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), who carved out his third victory and padded his lead in the points competition.
Stuyven was well-positioned in the final kilometer, but he paid a hefty price for the effort it took to get there.
"In a sprint like today it makes a big difference to have a team around you; it's not easy to do it alone against the specialist teams," he said. "It was really, really fast and I tried to make the best of it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and today was a day it didn't."
Bauke Mollema arrived safely in the peloton, and the GC remained unchanged.