They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that certainly seems to be the case foPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE You would have been brave to have betted on Quick Step-Davitamon climber Juan Miguel Mercado, half the size of his breakaway companion and fellow Spaniard Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears-Banesto), winning the two-up sprint at the end of stage 18 between Annemasse and Lons le Saunier. "I knew that the Spanish riders in the original six-man break [Garcia Acosta, and Juan Antonio Flecha, one of the chasing four] were the most dangerous," Mercado said. "Coming into the last kilometre, I was behind Garcia Acosta. I knew I didn't have much chance against him in a sprint, so jumping with 300 metres to go surprised him, I think." According to one Spanish journalist, Mercado's breakaway companion was not happy with how the stage had been won. "I collaborated with him. I did everything. Tomorrow I would go and tell him the same," protested Mercado. "We collaborated perfectly, everyone could see that on TV. Yes, I was on his wheel with a kilometre to go. But I was just happy that there were two Spaniards together at the end of a Tour stage. And when you have the chance to win, you're not going to give a gift to anyone else." On Thursday evening, Mercado had felt so ill after the long mountain stage that he had been thinking about not even starting Friday's stage. But after some encouragement from his Quick Step team-mates, and an early night, Mercado was raring to go again in Annemasse. "I don't know if I'd suffered from the heat, or whether it was something I ate or drank, but I woke up this morning and didn't feel sick any more," Mercado explained. "I had a good breakfast and, well, I won the stage. This is the most important win of my career."