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Martin climbs to 16th in tough mountain stage

Posted 09 April 2010

Dan Martin moved up one place to 16th in the GC in the Tour of the Basque Country after an impressive performance in the race’s toughest mountain stage.

The Garmin Transitions man rode strongly throughout the 160 kilometres stage from Murguia Zuia to Eibar (Arrate) which featured seven categorised climbs in the final 100 kilometres.

He finished 26th on the stage, 1 minute 16 seconds behind Samuel Sanchez who opened the Euskaltel-Euskadi team’s 2010 account with a breathtaking win.

Martin sustained the pressure applied by Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank) as the peloton pursued a five-man break over the category one Alto de Ixua climb with 40 kilometres to go.

The explosive pace whittled the bunch down to a chasing group of just 40 riders and the lead group were brought back as the race headed for the final climb of the Alto de Usartza some five kilometers from the finish.

Martin was part of the new lead group along with teammate Ryder Hesjedal but a powerful attack by Schleck blew the race apart before Chris Horner (Radioshack) made a bid for victory over the final two kilometers of the climb.

Sanchez, Gesink, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Omega Pharma Lotto) countered with Sanchez getting across to Horner before the summit.

The duo were caught on the descent by Gesink and Valverde but Sanchez’s exceptional descending skills seen him surge once more and solo to the stage win while Valverde claimed second place to restore himself as race leader.

Martin came home in a group of ten riders including Hesjedal with both riders limiting their losses to 1.15 in the GC ahead of tomorrow’s 170 kilometre mountainous stage to Orio.

Results

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, Spain (ProTour)

April 8, Stage 4: Murguia Zuia - Eibar (Arrate), 160kms

1. Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 4 hours, 5 mins, 16 secs.
2. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) at 2 secs
3. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) same

26. Daniel Martin (Garmin - Transitions) at 1 min, 16 secs.

General classification after Stage 4:

1. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 18 hours, 46 mins, 50 secs.
2. Christopher Horner (Team Radioshack) at 1 sec.
3. Robert Gesink (Rabobank) same time

16. Dan Martin (Garmin - Transitions) at 1 min, 15 secs.

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