Battered, bloodied and bruised, David Millar crossed the finish line in Orvieto almost three minutes down on stage winner Pieter Weening to bring to an end a draining 48 hours in pink.
On Monday, Millar finished second behind Angel Vicioso to move into the famous maglia rosa and become the only British rider to have modelled the leader's jersey in all three Grand Tours.
But what should have been a joyous occasion in the token Scot's career became almost a painful burden with the terrible news of Wouter Weylandt's death.
Suddenly, the parameters of Millar's moment in pink had been irreversibly changed. But who better in the peloton to deal with the situation than an old steady head like Millar?
The dignity, professionalism and pride with which he assumed his difficult role as face of the Giro amid such testing circumstances was admirable to say the least.
Riding ahead of a Leopard Trek-pronged peloton to start Tuesday's neutralised Wouter Weyland tribute stage brought a small tear to Saddles' eye.
And Millar was back at it one day later when he had the chance to defend his pink jersey properly for the first time.
With all those grit roads on the agenda, it was always going to be a big ask for Millar to maintain his lead. But no one really expected Vicioso, seven seconds down on our man in the GC, to try and pick up six bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint.
Millar certainly didn't, for his nervous panic was almost tangible from the safe confounds of the Feltham internet commentary box, where Saddles was snacking on carrot batons, hummus, pork liver pate, crusty bread and pineapple (one after the other, mind, as opposed to the myriad toppings of some dastardly American deep-pan pizza).
The pair took a different line around some street furniture after a tight bend, and then Vicioso failed to spot Millar sprinting through on the left. At top speed, both men clashed shoulders and hit the deck, dazed and confused.
Once Millar was safely re-ensconced within the bunch, he was greeted with bemused looks from riders wondering just what the maglia rosa has got himself into.
It's not often that you see a race leader covered in blood. Granted, Cadel Evans has perfected the look in recent years, but the wily Australian has also set the standard in anti-animal cruelty campaigning so that type of thing is kind of expected.
Road-rashed as badly as a piece of under-aged tarmac on holiday in Magaluf, Millar was always going to struggle on the first dirt track climb.
That he managed to fight his way back into the peloton despite losing more than a minute showed us much about his strong and determined character.
His first day in pink has not been so much ruined but made completely redundant - quite rightly - by the sad passing of one of his fellow professionals.
To let the pink go without a fight one day later was clearly something that never crossed Millar's mind.
It was clear to all and sundry that the 34-year-old would be blown apart on the final punchy climb into Orvieto - but Millar still fought back tooth and nail, presumably purely on principle.
Watching him come to a near standstill on the final climb actually made Saddles get out of his chair and applaud the Garmin-Cervelo veteran.
Anyone who knowingly sets himself up for such a painful battering but does so without a second thought while filled with pride and honour deserves our praise. It's what makes cycling such a great sport.
And despite his previous indiscretions, Millar is a worthy ambassador to a sport which has shown just how remarkable it is by coming through a devastating two days with flying colours.
RIP WW 108: Before the start of every stage in every grand Tour the riders are requested to come forward and sign in alongside their race number to confirm their on-going participation.
Before Tuesday's stage four of the Giro there was already one entry on the list before any rider had the chance to pick up a pen. It was a poignant R.I.P. written in the box next to Wouter Weylandt's 108.
The same number could be seen held aloft by many fans lining the streets on the way to Livorno on Tuesday.
The number 108 is considered sacred in many Eastern religions and traditions; Major League baseballs all have 108 stitches; there are exactly 108 missing episodes in the British TV series Doctor Who.
The number 108 is also one of many numeric motifs in the US series Lost: the sum of "the numbers" is 108; these numbers have to be added into a computer every 108 minutes; 108 is the number of days the survivors have spent on the island.
And lost is how Saddles has felt since seeing those terrible images while reporting on the Giro live on Monday. That night, instead of his usual jovial blog Saddles simply offered a holding page for people to share their memories and add their condolences.
On Tuesday, after the processional stage four, Saddles was still rather speechless. Sometimes words cannot add anything more than the pictures and scenes we can view with our own eyes.
But now Saddles will just say this. In his three or so years writing this at-times-splenetic blog, Saddles has never had a bad thing to say about Wouter Weylandt.
OK, BS may have once made a comment about Weylandt's pin-up looks - but as regular readers of this blog will attest, if the only thing Saddles can hang you out to dry for is your boyband hair, then you're doing pretty well.
In a sport often dogged by so much controversy and riddled with characters of debatable decency, Weylandt was one of the good guys. He will be sorely missed.