Marianne Vos admitted that she was "disappointed" after finishing second in a World Championships road race for the sixth time.
The Dutch sprinter was pipped to gold on the Flanders roads by an outstanding final kick from Italy's Elisa Balsamo, continuing a golden sporting summer for her nation with a surprise win in Leuven.
Supported by a team possessing obscene strength, Vos had appeared the favourite to add to her three previous road rainbow jerseys after making the final selection on a lumpy course.
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She had appeared perfectly positioned to do precisely that as she lurked behind Balsamo and her lead-out rider Elisa Longo Borghini as the line neared.
However, after a fine job by Longo Borghini to deliver her into position, the 23-year-old Italian had the sprinting speed up the final uphill drag to the line to claim her first world road race title.
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“Of course, I have to admit, at first I was really disappointed," Vos explained after being left in tears in the immediate aftermath of defeat. "If you’re so close to the gold, then obviously I would have wanted to finish off. But now the smile is back.
“But Elisa did a great race. When she opened up the sprint, I couldn’t make the speed and I really felt it was going to be very hard. Then silver was all I could do.
"I’m also satisfied with the shape I’m in and the silver medal I could take out of this race.
Poland's Kasia Niewiadoma finished third some distance behind the leading pair.
It marked a breakthrough win for the talented Balsamo, who will join Trek-Segafredo at the end of the year.
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Given the strength and multi-faceted nature of the Dutch team, it was something of an underdog triumph for the Italian.
However despite teammate Ellen Van Dijk suggesting that the Netherlands had burned too many matches and denied their sprinter a proper lead-out, Vos was not critical of her team's tactics.
“With the team we all wanted to have a hard race and we wanted to create some opportunities for riders in the early breaks,” Vos said. “If that didn’t work out, then attacks in the final to get everybody tired, and for me to get as fresh as possible to the finish.
“That went well. We were never really out of contention.
"I didn’t lose the race in the lead-out. I lost it when I couldn’t beat Elisa Balsamo on the line. You have to be happy with silver.”
Vos also hailed compatriot Anna van der Breggen, a fellow legend of the sport who bows out after these World Championships to take up a sporting director role at SD Worx.
“She’s a great champion but also a great person," Vos said of her teammate.
"It’s weird to speak in the retrospective, but she was always very dedicated and also relaxed, and that’s a fine balance. She had to be who she is and never really acted as the queen of cycling, even though she was over the last years.
“Anna was always still Anna and she will stay Anna. We’ve had a great champion and a great role model for cycling.”
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