David Millar took the leader's pink jersey in the Giro D'Italia but the third stage was completely overshadowed by the death of Belgian rider Wouter Weylandt after a horrific crash.
Weylandt came off his bike on the descent of the Bocco mountain pass and received emergency treatment from doctors before being pronounced dead.
Spaniard Angel Vicioso won the 173km ride after a five-man breakaway.
Millar was second and took the race lead from fellow Briton Mark Cavendish.
But the Scot said gaining the pink jersey paled into insignificance alongside the tragic death of Weylandt.
"It means nothing," the Garmin-Cervelo rider said. "I can't even imagine what his family are going through, it's terrible."
Asked if the death showed the sport was too dangerous, he said: "It was one of the million things that we have to go through.
"Our sport is very tragic at times - it has been throughout its history - but we get mixed up in a lot of stupid things in this sport.
"The bottom line is that it's a sport that has its risks every single day."
The peloton reeled in a breakaway group 12km from the finish line in Rapallo, but shortly afterwards, Millar's group surged away on a short climb.
Millar's Garmin team-mate Christophe Le Mevel pushed the pace in the closing stages in a bid to give Millar the perfect springboard but the Scot was overtaken by Vicioso shortly before the line.
Movistar's Pablo Lastras Garcia was third, with fellow Spaniard Daniel Fernandez fourth and Le Mevel fifth in the same time.
The podium celebration was cancelled in the wake of the news of Weylandt's death.
Millar leads Vicioso by seven seconds in the overall standings, while Cavendish has slipped to 120th after finishing the stage three minutes and 20 seconds behind the lead group.
Of the other British riders, Peter Kennaugh is 35th, Russel Downing is 115th and Adam Blythe 201st.