Bryan Coquard was left devastated as his late surge on stage four of the Tour de France could not propel him to victory in Limoges.
The Direct Energie rider sped through on the outside in the closing metres of Tuesday's stage only to be denied the win by millimetres by the front wheel of Marcel Kittel.
Coquard had to settle for second place as Kittel somehow held on, leaving the Frenchman disappointed after coming agonisingly close to his first Tour win for the second day.
"I really believed in my chances," said Coquard. "I could see I was making it back, but it was not enough.
"I'm very disappointed, but I must not give up. There are still lots of chances left. I'm glad that we took things into our own hands. I think I belong with the greats now.
"There is no mistake in the sprints, the stronger wins. I was never as close to victory, but I haven't won yet. I'm young, but I'm a winner. I have temperament and I want to win this year on the Tour."
For Kittel it was a ninth win on the Tour and first this year and the German was elated after seeing his bike narrowly ahead of Coquard's in the photo finish.
"I feel very emotional right now - it feels like my first stage win again," he said. "I'm super happy. I'm very proud because the team was really fighting for this win.
"Things went wrong in the last days and I'm so happy to be back in the Tour and to win a stage like this. I can't believe it."
Unlike on Monday, Mark Cavendish was unable to contest the final sprint having been blocked off by his rivals, the Briton settling for eighth, while race leader Peter Sagan crossed in third.