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Gutsy show leaves Martin sixth at Fleche Wallonne

Posted 18 April 2012

Dan Martin has finished sixth at Fléche Wallonne after a gusty performance on the famed finishing climb of the Mur de Huy.

Martin (Garmin-Barracuda) fought his way back into contention on the punishing one kilometre city wall having started it almost thirty places off the front.

His teammate, Ryder Hesjedal, led the race onto the third and final ascent of the notoriously steep climb having escaped with Team Sky’s Lars Peter Nordhaug inside the closing ten kilometres.

Hesjedal was clearly working for the Garmin-Barracuda team when he shut down an attack from Astana’s Valentin Iglinskiy on the penultimate climb of the Cote de Villers-le-Bouillet.

The Canadian was forced to counter another move when Nordhaug attacked with 8.5 kilometres to go as the peloton grappled with atrocious wet and windy weather conditions.

The pair pulled out a lead of just thirteen seconds by the time they hit the base of the Mur de Huy for the third and final time.

Martin meanwhile, was forced to bide his time as the Katusha team of two-time race runner-up Joaquin Rodriguez led a large chase group of almost sixty riders onto the climb.

The Irishman was unfortunate to find himself trapped close to the barriers, almost thirty positions back, just as the race favourites moved to assert themselves.

Nordhaug survived an attack from Hesjedal but a counter-attack amounted to nothing as the gap closed to a bike length with less than 500 metres to the summit of the gruelling climb.

Rodriguez attacked as the peloton made the junction over 100 metres later but the move came too early for Martin who was frantically digging his way back to the head of the race.

GreenEdge’s Michael Albasini came closest to getting on terms but the Spaniard’s combined strength and timing allowed him to celebrate a hard earned win with four seconds in hand.

Philiippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma Quickstep) signalled that his form is also there by taking third from the chase group ahead of Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol).

Martin worked all the way for his sixth place but the Irishman will certainly rue his early positioning on the climb and the fact that the finish came that bit too soon this time round.

He said afterwards that he was suprised at the result but paid tribute to the large number of Irish supporters on the course for providing him with motivation.

"The Irish support kept me going. I am very surprised at the result. I felt bad all day but stayed mentally strong," he said.

Martin said that he just kept it going after arriving at the bottom of the Mur de Huy in a poor position, adding that the inclement weather and ten climbs had made for a tough day.

Results:

Fléche Wallonne, Charleroi - Huy, 194 kilometres

1.  Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team 4:45:41
2.  Michael Albasini (Swi) GreenEdge Cycling Team 0:00:04
3.  Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
4.  Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team
5.  Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) Astana Pro Team 0:00:07
6.  Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - Barracuda 0:00:09
7.  Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team
8.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
9.  Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
10. Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team

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