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A high-speed crash 10km from the line Saturday proved costly to the GC favorites at the Vuelta a España on Saturday.
Race leader Igor Antón was the biggest victim of the day, crashing hard after hitting an apparent pothole in the road, losing control of his bike and leaving the Vuelta with a likely broken elbow.
“I have lived a dream for the past two weeks. I have won two stages and demonstrated that I could lead a grand tour. I am trying to take things as calmly as possible. Things have taken an unexpected turn and there’s nothing I can do except try to come back even stronger next year,” Antón said. “I’ve taken some blows before in this life and I know how to handle them. I promise to come back next year even stronger.”
Antón’s Euskaltel-Euskadi teammate, Egoi Martínez, was transported by ambulance to the Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla de Santander. Martínez said he’s banged up, but did not break any bones.
“I am really beat up. This was only the second time in my sporting career that I’ve cried, because we didn’t deserve this bad luck. We were riding together super-motivated because we finally had the ‘chosen one,’ someone to win the Vuelta,” Martínez said. “It was a hard blow to the team, but we have to remember that life goes on and we’ll have more opportunities.”
Caisse d’Epargne also saw its two GC men, Marzio Bruseghin and Rigoberto Urán, go down hard in the same crash. Sport director Eusebio Unzue said it’s unlikely that either will start Sunday’s stage to Covadonga.
Both were sitting well on GC, with Bruseghin sixth overall and Urán eighth. Neither suffered any broken bones, but were covered in cuts and scrapes. Bruseghin received several stitches on both arms.