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Gutsy ride by Martin preserves GC position

Posted 12 April 2010

Dan Martin limited his losses to just under a minute and held onto his 16th place in the GC after a gutsy performance in the 170 kilometre stage five of the Tour of the Basque Country.

The Garmin Transitions rider crossed the line in Orio just 59 seconds behind stage winner Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) who came dangerously close to unseating race leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne).

Martin survived a tough day in the mountains which reduced the peloton to approximately 50 riders as it pursued an early 15 man breakaway which included Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel-Euskadi), the leader in the mountains classification.

Txurruka survived a number of failed breakaways during the stage and was part of a group of ten riders who had over a minute’s lead heading into the first of two accents of the second category Alto de Aia within the last 25 kilometres.

The climb which pitched to a gradient of 22 per cent wreaked havoc and Rodriguez used it to his advantage to pass the disintegrating breakaway pulling team-mate Alexandr Kolobnev, Alexander Efimkin  (AG2R La Mondiale) and Daniel Narvarro (Astanta) with him in pursuit of a resilient Txurruka.

While Txurruka had the misfortune to crash while leading on the descent with 15 kilometres to go, Rodriguez was quickly eating into his 48 second deficit on Valverde’s  race lead promoting a spirited chase by Valverdre, Chris Horner (Radioshack) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskatel-Euskadi).

He gained a maximum of 44 seconds and eventually crossed the line just 14 seconds ahead of the chasing trio. Martin meanwhile, was battling hard to preserve his own GC standing and followed in just 45 seconds later.

The race finishes tomorrow with a 22 kilometre individual time trial in Orio where Martin stands a realistic chance of improving his final overall position.

Results

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, Spain (ProTour)

April 9, Stage 5: Eibar – Orio, 170kms

1. Joaquin Rodriguez (Team Katusha) 4 hours, 7 mins, 52 secs.
2. Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) at 14 secs.
3. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) same time.

19. Daniel Martin (Garmin-Transitions) at 59 secs.

General classification after Stage 5:

1. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 22 hours, 54 mins, 56 secs.
2. Christopher Horner (Team Radioshack) at 1 sec.
3. Joaquin Rodriguez (Team Katusha) at 34 secs.

16. Dan Martin (Garmin-Transitions) at 2 mins.

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