The 28-year-old came into the event in form having recently won the gruelling Tour de Normandie in France.
And he showed his legs by going on the attack in Australia, chipping off the front of the peloton as one of several moves in the first 90 minutes of the race.
His move stuck, though, and was initially away as part of a three-man break, before being joined by six more.
When that group disintegrated he launched another attack but was caught on the final lap of nine around the Currumbin beachfront.
He eventually finished seventh for Team England but was still not happy with the result.
“I’m disappointed. We came here as a team to win but I think we can still be proud of how we rode in the sense of leaving everything out there,” said the JLT-Condor rider. “We certainly animated the race but it didn’t work out, unfortunately.”
Stewart will now return to the UK and prepare for the upcoming Tour de Yorkshire, where the team have yet to determine their main objective.
“Ian Bibby [fellow Team England and JLT-Condor rider] and myself have got the Tour de Yorkshire coming up, that’s the next big target,” he added. “For the Tour de Yorkshire we’re going to spend some time recceing some stages and either go for a stage win or try to get a good solid GC, maybe a top five overall.”
Fellow Yorkshire riders Adam Blythe and Ollie Wood failed to finish the race – the latter suffering an early puncture and struggling to work his way through the back markers – while Harry Tanfield followed his time trial silver with another strong performance on the road, finishing 42nd.
While in the women’s race Wakefield’s Mel Lowther returned to action the being forced to sit out Tuesday’s time trial due to an administration error.
She finished ninth in the race and admitted to having considered not racing in Australia. “Ahead of the race I was pretty all over the place mentally. One second I wanted to show them in the road race, the next I just wanted to go home,” said the 21-year-old.
“I just had to sort my head out and come into here feeling positive and try to do as good a ride as I could.”
* npower is the Official Partner of Team England and is giving our athletes the power of support by recording a brand new version of their anthem, Jerusalem. To listen to the track visit npower.com/teamengland