Froome quit the men’s elite race around 80km from the end of the 272.5km course as torrential rain caused multiple crashes and made for arduous conditions in hilly Florence.
None of his seven British team-mates, including Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Geraint Thomas, could finish either as Portuguese rider Rui Costa pipped Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez to the rainbow jersey.
“It’s a big disappointment, especially having made it such a big objective, but with these conditions it just wasn’t meant to be,” said Froome.
“The conditions are the same for everyone. We’ve got no excuse. We just weren’t there. The first three laps on the circuit there were crashes everywhere. The weather hasn’t let up; it’s rained solidly all day. After three laps the split started happening and I looked around and realised I didn’t have any team-mates left and it wasn’t going to happen.”
Froome had been bidding to become the first man since American Greg LeMond in 1989 to win the race in a same year as claiming the Tour de France. Cavendish kept Froome in contention but fell away when the race entered Florence for its 10-lap conclusion, and he and Wiggins soon retired. A puncture for Steve Cummings further hit the British team.
“Brad and Steve are our two strongest to be with Froome and we lost them as soon as we hit the circuit,” said Thomas, who lasted until 30km from the finish.
“It’s not ideal and the rest of us didn’t have the legs to do anything in the final. We all committed to getting Chris there, it just wasn’t to be.
“It was carnage out there. As soon as you drifted into the second half of that peloton there were crashes everywhere. I saw five or six in front of me.”