For once, Samuel Sánchez was not at his best when everyone expected him to be.
Touted as a podium contender going into the Giro d'Italia, the Euskaltel leader came up desperately short - a second place on stage 18 and 12th overall is all he has to show for his efforts.
Now, with the dust (not to mention the snow) settled and the first Grand Tour out of the way, the 35-year-old has decided to talk about what happened.
In a candid open letter, 'Samu' tells fans to trust him and his team-mates to put it right.
I put it into English. Here goes:
A life of challenges
The Giro finished yesterday. I'd like to congratulate and thank my team-mates and the staff for all their help and support during the 21 stages. They know I prepared thoroughly for the race and, though things didn't turn out as we would have hoped, they trusted me at all times and got involved. Even though they knew I wasn't at my very best they didn't give up. I'm proud of them and proud of having earned their respect, both when I'm winning and when I'm trying but can't do it. I value that greatly.
The life of an athlete is marked by challenges, by the desire to succeed. My first professional victory was a long time coming - I hit the posts a few times before I got my goal. In the Tour de France I also struggled at first. But I kept working, pushing myself, growing and, after a few years, came back to the 'Grand Boucle' and won a stage to the Luz Ardiden, finished on the podium, won a polkadot jersey that hadn't been captured since the days of Txomin Perurena... Before I could embark on that challenge, I had to master the Vuelta. And I twice finished on the podium there... And how about the Vuelta al País Vasco, a race so dear to us? I came so close to winning on so many occasions, but up until 2012 it wasn't happening. But then it did happen. Things have never come easy to me.
The last few years have been good for us. The team has reached important milestones when expectations were high. We have to put what happened in this year's Giro into perspective and trust this group which has given us so much joy. We have to keep working with professionalism, enthusiasm and desire. We look to the future optimistically. Experience tells me we're facing a new challenge. And we have overcome challenges before.
I'm not forgetting the sponsors, partners and fans. From my heart: eskerrik asko (Basque for thank you) for your support. We have given it our all for you to feel proud of our commitment to cycling, to this team. The results will come - of that I'm sure.