Poland's Michal Kwiatkowski won the road race at the World Championships by one second after breaking clear four miles from the finish in Spain.
Australia's Simon Gerrans was second, with Spain's Alejandro Valverde third for a third consecutive year.
Kwiatkowski attacked on the penultimate climb on the last of 14 laps that made up the 254.8km (159-mile) race and held off the chasing pack in Ponferrada.
Great Britain's team leader Ben Swift finished 12th.
"I gave it my best shot but that last steep climb really hurt," Swift told BBC Sport. "I got myself into a good position but it was just a hard day."
|Analysis from former GB cyclist and BBC Sport summariser Rob Hayles:|
|"Britain rode to a plan and executed it well. It was just unfortunate that the last 10 minutes were extremely difficult and Ben Swift ran out of legs, but finished among other sprinters like him. Hats off to them. It wasn't just about coming to win the jersey it was about doing the jersey proud and they did that."|
It was a terrific ride by the 26-year-old Yorkshireman, to cap a well-executed race by the British team.
Swift was well supported by the likes of 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome, Commonwealth Games road race champion Geraint Thomas and national road race winner Peter Kennaugh from the Isle of Man.
Thomas, as he explained in his column for the BBC Sport website, helped Swift for the first half of the race, keeping him out of trouble, before quitting as planned.
Kennaugh monitored attacks and went with a move with a little more than three laps to go to ensure his fellow British riders would not have to work to chase the break down.
Luke Rowe took up the domestique duties, looking after Swift, as the race began to open up in the final 50km.
Swift was in the leading bunch of riders on the 5km climb to Confederacion on the final lap but he was unable to go with Kwiatkowski when he made his move.
"Kwiatkowski is such a class act. He had his team on the front and he definitely deserved the win," added Swift.
The Polish squad worked hard in the middle part of the race to help bring back a group of four riders that raced clear on the opening lap, allowing Kwiatkowski to conserve energy.
Once that break was caught, with around 70km remaining, several riders attacked off the front of the peloton, with Kennaugh and Germany's Tony Martin, who lost his world time trial title to Britain's Sir Bradley Wiggins on Wednesday, among those to go clear.
However, no break was decisive until Kwiatkowski made his move towards the top of the penultimate climb on the final lap. He eked out a few extra seconds on the final 1km ascent to Mirador before holding off the chasing pack on the 4km descent into Ponferrada.
"I am really thankful for my mates for what they did at the beginning," said Kwiatkowski, who becomes the first Polish world road champion.
"I said right from the start that we have to lead the peloton because that was our best chance."
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) 6hrs 29mins 07secs
2. Simon Gerrans (Aus) +1sec
3. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Same time
4. Matti Breschel (Den)
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel)
6. Tony Gallopin (Fra)
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) +4secs
8. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) +7secs
9. John Degenkolb (Ger) Same time
10. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)
11. Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
12. Ben Swift (GB)