LIAM Killeen was the first England rider home as his shock comeback to international action ended in sixth place at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The 32-year-old Olympian from Malvern was handed a late call-up to the nation's squad despite only just returning to the sport after sustaining a bad ankle injury at London 2012.
However, the five-time British champion, a Commonwealth gold medal winner in Melbourne eight years ago, was still fancied to figure among the top riders.
Killeen replaced David Fletcher, who suffered a fall in training, in the mountain bike cross-country event in Scotland but his time of one hour 41 minutes 57 seconds was not enough for the podium.
He was only back in action at the British Cross Country Series in Nottinghamshire last month.
Killeen then finished second senior at the British Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships, despite starting on the fifth row when ranked a lowly 36th.
The honorary Malvern Cycle Sport Club member clearly caught the eye of selectors as he was chosen to tackle the new, purpose-built mountain bike trails at Cathkin Braes Country Park, near Glasgow.
Killeen eventually crossed the line in sixth spot — three minutes and 31 seconds behind the winner Anton Cooper, of New Zealand.
“I am still recovering from my ankle injury, so I haven’t got that peak power which is the name of the game off the start line,” Killeen said.
“I did my best but I am still a few watts off on my weak leg. I was pleased just to hang in there.
“I gave it a good shot. Top five would have been nice but Grant (Ferguson) took that place and I am really pleased for him.
"He has got a promising career ahead of him.”
Scotland’s Ferguson rode home fifth to a raucous home crowd whipped up by a thrilling sprint finish.
Offering panoramic views of the city, hundreds of spectators lined the challenging course, which was punctuated by twisting hairpin turns, steep slopes and shifting terrain.
Cross-country cycling was absent from the games programme in Delhi four years ago.