Yorkshire’s Adam Blythe finished in a highly-creditable third place on a windy second stage of the Vuelta a Espana, but conceded that he should have done better.
Chasing a first grand tour stage win and a maiden victory of the year for pro-continental team Aqua Blue Sport, Blythe crossed the line of the 203.4km route from Nimes to Gruissan just behind Quick-Step Floors duo Yves Lampaert and Matteo Trentin.
Fellow Briton Chris Froome was eight seconds off the pace in 16th place to improve his overall standing in the race for the Vuelta’s red jersey.
Froome, who hopes to become just the third man to win the Vuelta and Tour de France in the same year, climbs to ninth overall, 21 seconds behind stage winner and leader Lampaert, while Sheffield-born Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) is a further 18 seconds back in 30th place.
“I’m frustrated, but happy,” said 27-year-old Blythe, who is debuting in the Vuelta.
“I had a perfect situation, but Lampaert went off. I thought I was in a good position.
“The team worked well for me, it’s just a shame I couldn’t do more.
“There wasn’t much organisation. With teams trying to split it in the crosswinds a bit before, there wasn’t much teamwork. Everyone kept mucking it up.
“The only team that really did it was Quick-Step and that wasn’t really a lead-out.
“I felt good all day. I’m just a bit gutted I couldn’t do more than third.
“I didn’t have the legs and Quick-Step played a sneaky game.”
Froome suffered a minor setback with a puncture in the final 75km, but he quickly came back to the peloton with the help of his team-mates.
Sky set a very strong pace with 7km to go, but the peloton was left in pieces after Quick-Step Floors’ acceleration 2km from the stage finish. Belgian Lampaert found an opening and attacked a kilometre from the end and he was rewarded with victory and the red jersey.
The 26-year-old holds a one second lead over team-mate Trentin going into today’s mountain stage from Prades Conflent Canigo to Andorra la Vella, with another Italian, Daniel Oss, in third position.
Froome’s Team Sky finished fourth in the opening stage of the Vuelta on Saturday, with BMC Racing winning the team time-trial in Nimes.
Quick-Step Floors and Team Sunweb pushed close, but none of the 21 other teams on the day were able to dislodge BMC from the initial summit.