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Martin off to flying start at Basque

Posted 09 April 2010

Dan Martin survived a decisive split on the final climb of the opening stage of the Tour of the Basque Country to finish 8th as part a select 24 man group.

The Garmin-Transitions rider was careful not be to caught out when the bunch pulled back an early five man breakaway on the second category Alto de las Calizas with just 20 kilometres to go.

A stinging attack by one of the big race contenders Robert Gesink (Rabobank), Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) and Chris Horner (Team Radioshack) put a number of riders under pressure coming as it did after a succession of category 3 and category 2 climbs.

The move was countered by a five man group comprising Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne), Frank Schleck (Saxo Bank), Christophe Le Mevel (Francaise de Jeux), Jurgen van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Beñat Intxausti (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

As the eight riders rode a rapid descent to the finish in Zierbena, Martin was part of a small lead group of chasing riders who worked against a headwind to keep themselves within 20 seconds.

The chasing group made contact within the final four kilometers and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) crossed the line first only to be relegated by the commissionaires who ruled that he had deviated from his line in the sprint.

The stage was subsequently awarded to Valverdre who protested at having been blocked in and the Spaniard will wear the race leader’s jersey heading into tomorrow’s hilly 217 kilometre stage from Zierbena to Viana.

Results

Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco, Spain (ProTour):   

April 5, Stage 1: Zierbena, 152kms

1. Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) 3 hours, 57 mins, 57 secs.
2. Christophe Le Mevel (Française des Jeux) same time.
3. Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Transitions) same time.

8. Dan Martin (Garmin-Transitions) same time.

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