Eritrea's Mekseb Debesay will not forget his first WorldTour cycling race after getting lost on Belgium's back roads and being rescued by a good Samaritan who offered him food and a shower.
Debesay, who rides for African-based Dimension Data, got lost while riding the 206km E3 Harelbeke, the first cobblestone classic of the year, finally arriving back at the team hotel 15 hours after setting out and covering 240km.
"It's an amazing story," team sports director Pierre Heynderickx was quoted in Het Nieuwsblad newspaper.
"He fell behind a small group that decided to take back roads to Harelbeke around 20 kilometres from the finish.
"Debesay was afraid of becoming lost and decided to follow the course arrows to get to the finish. Unfortunately, he wandered from the correct path."
When Debesay, 24, looked down at his bicycle computer and saw 206km he realised he was in trouble and asked a member of the public how to get to the finish.
"That man suggested that they should go together to his home in Lierde," Heynderickx, who called the police to find out if there had been any news of Debesay, added.
"He let him take a shower, gave him fresh clothes and offered food to our hungry rider...
"No one had any idea where he was. Then, suddenly, we received a phone call."
The race was won by Team Sky's Michal Kwiatkowski.