It was the denouement nobody expected, even less so after the way stage one of the Tour de France panned out.
But the contrast in emotions between Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) could not have been clearer as an enthralling, spectacularly well-supported stage drew to a close in Harrogate.
Arms raised as he celebrated stage one victory for the second year running, and with it a second yellow jersey of his career, Kittel is living the dream.
By contrast, Cavendish – who had looked to be in prime position when Tony Martin led the peloton onto Parliament Street – was left, once again, to rue what might have been.
The Manx Missile crossed the finish line alone, his right arm hung loosely in his lap and his dream of pulling on the yellow jersey in his mother’s home town in tatters.
It was ecstasy and agony as only one of the world’s biggest sporting events can provide.
Relive the dramatic conclusion in the photo gallery below, brought to you with the kind permission of Simon Wilkinson and SWpix.com.