Egoi Martínez vows to gain the success at the Tour de France that has so far eluded him.
The Basque all-rounder has worn the polka-dot best climber’s jersey, only to lose it to Franco Pellizotti in 2009. And the Euskaltel-Euskadi attacker has come close to winning a big mountain stage, only to lose to Simon Gerrans in 2008.
Both times he was second, left with questions about what could have been.
“I had the bad luck last year of going up a big climber like Pellizotti for the climber’s jersey,” said Martínez, who finished second in the climber’s points. “It was a hard-spent battle, because every day I had to go into breakaways looking for the points. But the Italian didn’t allow me even one and he was a better climber than me.”
Martínez ─ who won a stage at the Vuelta a España in 2006 with Discovery Channel before returning to Euskaltel-Euskadi ─ admits that being so close to Tour glory only gives him more motivation going into 2010.
“The past two years I’ve been looking to be able to raise my arms (in celebration) and I ended up just short, with the honey on my lips,” Martínez said in a recent interview. “I have been on the hunt for a victory, and despite coming very close, it’s been elusive. Now I know that a Tour stage is within reach and I am going to keep trying with all my strength.”
For 2010, Martínez will give all in a bid to break into the elusive Tour stage-winner’s club.
“My main objective will be to be in top form in July,” he said. “I know that I can be good in the Basque Country tour because I always roll well in April. Then there’s the Vuelta, which I hope to return to like I did this year, with the homework done, so I can take it a little more tranquil and enjoy the competition without too much pressure.”
Despite winning the Tour de l’Avenir and showing promise early in his career, Martínez, now 31, admits he’ll never be a rider who can aspire to win a three-week stage race or become a GC captain.
Instead, he’s comfortable in his role as looking for breakaways, hunting stages, snagging climber’s jerseys and then helping out the team captains along the way.
“I am a strong and consistent rider, but it takes a lot for me to win. It’s because of this I don’t mind working for my other teammates,” he said. “Riders like Samuel Sánchez, who is the undisputed leader of the team, or Koldo Fernández, who is a great sprinter. Or even Igor Antón, who even though he lacks a little regularity, he’s a big rider. I had some early success and perhaps this created the perception that I was winner that I could not later fulfill. Perhaps this seems that I’ve had a few bad years, but I assimilated this a long time ago and I know my place in the peloton.”