Great Britain’s Chris Froome saw his hopes of winning the elite men’s race at the 2013 UCI Road World Championships ended after being forced to withdraw in Florence.
Froome’s teammates Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Luke Rowe, Steve Cummings, Josh Edmondson, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas also retired during the 272.5-kilometre race as appalling conditions saw a series of crashes and withdrawals on a rain-soaked finish circuit.
Portugal’s Rui Costa was crowned world champion, beating Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez in a two-man sprint as just 48 of the 208 starters completed the race. Spaniard Alejandro Valverde took bronze.
"The conditions are the same for everyone. We've got no excuse. We just weren't there," Froome, who withdrew with over 80-kilometres remaining, said.
"It's a big disappointment, especially having made it such a big objective but with these conditions it just wasn't meant to be.
"The first three laps on the circuit there were crashes everywhere. The weather hasn't let up. It's rained solidly all day. After three laps the split started happening and I looked around and realised I didn't have any team-mates left and it wasn't going to happen.
"Given we've come up empty handed we'll have to go back to the drawing board [ahead of the Rio Olympics]."
Cavendish had worked at the front of the peloton for much of the 106-kilometre journey into Florence and the finishing circuit.
But once there, and in heavy rain, Britain’s riders gradually dropped back and out of the race.
Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish fell early on, the victims of a pile-up involving multiple riders, and Steve Cummings was hit by a puncture as Edmondson, Rowe, Stannard and then Froome saw their race cut short.
Geraint Thomas, the last British rider to retire, said: "It was just carnage out there.
"I saw five or six crashes out in front of me. Once you're in that back half, you're kind of destined to get dropped. We all committed to try and get Froome there, but it wasn't meant to be.”
Costa, Rodriguez, Valverde and Vincenzo Nibali had made up a four-man break on the final lap of the 16.6-kilometre circuit.
Rodriguez attacked but Costa then bridged the gap and sat on the Spaniard’s wheel before launching his attack in the final 100 metres.