- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Shattered Rohan Dennis has been left apologising and close to tears after cracking on the final-day time trial and missing out on victory at the 75th Tour de Romandie.
The Australian cut an emotional figure after the final uphill slog against the clock in the Swiss Alps on Sunday, having seen his overnight 15-second lead disappear cruelly as his week's exhausting efforts finally caught up with him.
One of the best of time trialists, the 31-year-old double world champion gave everything but simply had nothing left as he slumped from first to eighth overall on the verge of the biggest stage-race triumph of his career.
"Sorry. I'm absolutely spent," was all the Adelaide rider could at first muster when he talked to reporters straight after the race in Villars-sur-Ollon.
It was a defeat that was hard to take after he'd been red hot favourite to ride to victory in the prestigious six-day Swiss race over the concluding 15.84km time trial which had looked ideal for his soloing abilities.
But this master in races against the clock never looked comfortable in the painful drag from Aigle, had to change his bike during the run, and ended up two minutes 12 seconds down on Russia's eventual stage and overall race winner, Aleksandr Vlasov.
The 31-year-old, riding for powerful Dutch team Jumbo-Visma, ended up finishing only 22nd fastest, which relegated him to eighth in the final standings, one minute 54 seconds down on Bora-Hansgrohe's Vlasov.
It was a grievous disappointment for the Australian national time trial champ, who'd earned three podium places during the week and had survived a tough penultimate stage on Saturday with his race lead still in tact.
Looking for his first overall stage race victory since the Tour Cycliste International La Provence five years ago, victory had looked to be a potentially straightforward exercise for the Olympic bronze medallist, who's enjoyed 21 time trial wins in his career.
Instead, as he went out last of the 116 riders, it became clear he didn't have the legs on the long gradient after a tough week, as powerful climber Vlasov covered the course in 33min 40sec, 31 seconds up on the next best, Cofidis rider Simon Geschke.
It earned the Russian victory by 50sec overall from Bahrain-Victorious's Swiss runner-up Gino Mader and 55sec clear of Geschke.
"I had nothing left in the final half of the climb and it was just a fight," Dennis said, looking close to tears.
"The week has taken its toll, fighting each day. Maybe I fought too much in the first couple of days to gain as much time as possible."
Jumbo-Visma's team director Merijn Zeeman reckoned Dennis had absolutely nothing to be "sorry" for.
"He gave everything that he had, he could give no more, he just lacked the power today," team director Merijn Zeeman said.
Dennis's compatriot Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroen) was 10th quickest on the day to finish as the top Australian in the general classification in fifth place, 1:47 down.