By Monika Prell
Spaniard Egoi Martínez was left wondering what might have been after spending all day in the break on stage 15 of the Tour de France and then losing the final sprint to Australian Simon Gerrans. Martínez was widely tipped as the strongest of the quartet that escaped on the road to Prato Nevoso, but the seventh year professional couldn't shake Gerrans or American Danny Pate on the final climb.
The Euskaltel rider was given the most aggressive award for the stage, but after descending from the podium with tears in his eyes claimed that Gerrans had said he would not contest the victory if they arrived in Prato Nevoso together. "Fifty kilometres before the finish Gerrans began to say that he was not in good form, that he lacked strength, and that he would not be able to fight for the stage victory," Martínez told Spanish newspaper Marca.
"Gerrans said that he would settle for reaching the finish line with me and being second. So when he was not able to follow on the ascent to the Prato Nevoso, we waited for him."
Regardless of whether any deal existed between the breakaway riders, as Martínez claimed, the Spaniard realised that such a great chance to win a Tour de France stage was unlikely to come his way again. "I committed a fatal error, and I have paid for it very dearly," he said.