Five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Bradley Wiggins blamed a "schoolboy error" for a disappointing performance in his first shot at rowing.
The former cycling great returned to the scene of past triumphs at the Lee Valley Velodrome for the UK Indoor Rowing Championships after nine months training with the help of mentor James Cracknell.
But his hopes of making the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo for the first time in a boat are still some way off after he finished in 6 minutes and 22 seconds, 20 seconds outside his target time.
Wiggins pitted himself against the nation's best over two kilometres in a rowing machine but lost ground after pausing early on.
A "hugely disappointed" Wiggins explained on Twitter.
"Upon hearing a call in the background, I thought the race had false started so I put my oar down. School boy error but hey we live & learn as my plan was 6.02."
Wiggins finished in a respectable 21st out of 99 as members of the GB rowing team took the top five positions.
But only 24% of a Daily Mirror readers polled believe he will make the Olympics for a sixth time in 2020, whilst hardened followers on BBC Sport's Twitter feed referenced the mystery package which led to a 14-month investigation from anti-doping body UKAD and his use of therapeutic use exemptions to take banned substances for hayfever and asthma.
Wiggins will be 40 by the time Tokyo comes around - Steve Redgrave won his fifth gold at 38 - and he has also missed out on the British Rowing open trials for 2018.
British Rowing chief executive Andy Parkinson told Press Association Sport: "It's not quite as simple as pulling some good ergo times and dropping yourself in a boat.
"Our trials process tries to be as democratic or fair as possible. We don't prejudice anyone coming into the system, but we don't provide any favouritism either."
Rebecca Romero has won Olympic medals in both sports but she switched from rowing to cycling, whereas Wiggins is doing it the other way round, considered by sport scientists to be much harder.
Whatever the outcome, Wiggins certainly appears to be enjoying the journey, quickly putting the disappointment behind him and vowing to come back even stronger in 2018.
"Fantastic experience racing with everyone, will come back 12 months stronger next year!" he added.
"He'll be hurting a lot, but he won't leave it like that. He doesn't want to go out on failure," Cracknell said.
"He'll regard that as failing to achieve his target and he'll make sure he comes back and does it better."
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