Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge) was seemingly on track to deliver his best sprint performance so far at this year's Tour de France only to have his progress hampered by the crash that left Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) lying on the road with 150 metres to go.
Orica GreenEdge sports director said heading into the rest day this week that Goss had come out of the race through the Pyrenees in far better condition than he had beforehand and expected the former Milan-San Remo winner to be better placed in the flatter stages to come.
Goss was locked on the wheel of eventual winner Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) before having to quickly move to his left in order to avoid coming to grief as Veelers crashed on Tuesday's 10th stage.
"That was a close as u can come to going down in a sprint today! Veelers bike hit my front wheel then my leg then sent me in the air at 70kph," Goss later said via his twitter feed. Footage showed Goss coming unclipped when he adjusted his line.
"Had a lot of luck on my side to keep it upright! But unlucky not to get to do the sprint.... But I have all my skin for the next days!"
He later continued by that the skill he showed to avoid crashing was "more ass than class."
Goss' hopes for a result on the opening stage was brought to an end 500m from the finish when his front wheel collapsed after the spokes were damaged in the earlier crash that took out a number of contenders, including Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step). The 26-year-old suffered grazing in the incident but his sprint form hasn't been able to match the team's expectations with Orica GreenEdge committed to delivering a second stage win for the Tour with Goss.
"Today was I felt the best I'd felt all race," Goss told AFP having eventually crossed the finish line in 11th place. "I was in perfect position, I was on Kittel's wheel. It would have been a hard ask to come around because it's such a tricky little sprint but I could have been confident of a good result."
Goss is searching for his second stage victory of the season having last won at Tirreno-Adriatico in March. In the lead up to the Tour, he was defeated in a photo finish by Arnaud Demare (FDJ) on Stage 4 of the Tour de Suisse.