Patrick Bevin's quest for glory at the Tour Down Under has been cruelly cut down on the final stage of the race.
Nursing bandages and bruises from a high-speed crash yesterday, Bevin couldn't hold on to his leader's jersey, noticeably suffering from his injuries as he was dropped with 25 kilometres to go on the penultimate climb.
On the final climb, Richie Porte shot away to claim his sixth straight stage victory atop Willunga Hill, but in a repeat of last year, Daryl Impey limited his losses to defend his overall title, finishing third on the stage to win the Tour by 13 seconds over Porte.
George Bennett crossed the line in 16th to finish 12th overall, while Bevin eventually reached the finish line, five minutes and 41 seconds down, to finish in 41st.
It was a heartbreaking final day for Bevin, who had held the leader's jersey for four consecutive days. It was always going be hard to hold his lead against the pure climbers, but he would have at least made it a close-run thing, until his injuries had the final say.
"It's a pretty disappointing way to end the week," said Bevin.
"At the end of the day I'll look back and say it was a great week, but obviously it's going to hurt for a little while to lose that lead on the last day."
It was an incredible effort to even be on the start line, having suffered a bruised hip, bruised rib and multiple contusions in yesterday's crash. However, Bevin was determined to fight until he had nothing left, and was safely in the peloton until the race's penultimate climb - the first of two 3.6 kilometre ascents of Willunga Hill.
At an average gradient of 7.1 per cent, Team Sky pushed the pace, and Bevin couldn't fight any more, sliding out the back of the peloton and seeing his hopes of overall victory vanish.
That left Bennett as New Zealand's prospect for a top overall result, but he couldn't deliver either. Having stated his distaste of Willunga Hill earlier in the week, he started the climb surprisingly well back in the pack, and while he worked his way back to the front with 1.5 kilometres to go, he - also in a repeat of last year - attempted to follow the move of Porte but cracked, eventually losing 20 seconds.
Bevin, meanwhile, will rue the ill-fortune which saw him miss out on a golden opportunity to win a World Tour race. It could be a while before such an opportunity comes around again, but with his speciality time trials a big fixture in his upcoming races this season, there should be further stage victories and leaders jerseys heading Bevin's way in 2019.