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Martin signals GC intent in Vuelta's first mountains test

Posted 23 August 2011

Dan Martin has signaled that he can be a real contender in this year’s Vuelta á Espana by claiming third place on the first mountain stage to Sierra Nevada to move to 11th in the overall GC.

The Garmin Cervelo rider picked up an eight second time bonus after leading home a group of 28 riders and now lies just 1’06” off Sylvain Chavanel (Quickstep) who has become the new race leader.

The 26 year old came through the 170.2 kilometre stage from Baza with flying colours finishing just 11 seconds behind winner Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank Sungard).

Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) lost contact with the chase group inside the final kilometre of the 23 kilometre long climb to the finish but confined his losses to 51 seconds to finish 36th.

Roche too continued to progress through the GC and has improved to 27th overall with a reduced deficit of 2’11”.

Martin waited until the final kilometres before showing his hand with his break for third spot and the associated time bonus ensuring that he gained something over the other favourities who marked each other out on the climb.

The peloton containing Martin and Roche was whittled down to just 55 riders as it started the finishing climb almost three minutes down on a seven man breakaway who had been away from the 10 kilometre mark.

The escape group included Guillaume Bonnaford (AG2R La Mondiale), Matthew Busche (Radioshack), Yohan Bagot (Confidis), Thomas Rohregger (Leopard Trek), Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Jose Vincente Toribio (Andalucia-Caja Granada) and Koen de Kurt (Skil Shimano).

The held a lead of 7’20” over the first third category climb of the Alto de Filabres and maintained much of that advantage over the Puerto de Blancares with 45 kilometres to the finish.

That lead tumbled on the run into the finishing climb as the Rabobank team put its firepower behind the chase which had been marshaled up to that point by the Moviestar team of race leader Pablo Lastras.

Defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) stretched his legs off the front of the chase group with six kilometres to go but was allowed little ground by Martin and the other favourites riding towards the head of the peloton.

Sorensen attacked inside the closing four kilometers pulling Robert Kiserlovski (Astana) up to what remained of the lead group. The Saxo Bank-Sungard rider powered on with Bonnaford holding his wheel for a short distance.

Moreno bridged to the duo inside the final three kilometres with Bonnaford soon paying the price for his day out front as Sorensen set a cracking pace towards the finish line.

The plucky Dane though was also to pay for his efforts at the finish as Moreno sprung from behind just 400 metres from the finishing line to solo to the stage win.

Martin meanwhile was comfortably holding his own as Team Sky put the favourites under pressure with a final injection of pace. Roche was among those to feel the pinch but Martin rode the smartest race among the survivors to captialise on the available time bonus.

The stage was also significant in that Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) withdrew from the race.


2011 Vuelta á Espana

Stage 4: Baza – Sierra Nevada, 170.2 kilometres

1.  Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team 4:51:53  
2.  Chris Anker Sørensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard at 0:00:03  
3.  Daniel Martin (Irl) Team Garmin-Cervelo at 0:00:11  
4.  Joaquím Rodríguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha Team    
5.  Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre - ISD    
6.  Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
7.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
8.  Wout Poels (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
9.  Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre - ISD    
10. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team

3.  Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin Cervelo at 11 seconds
36. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 51 seconds

General classification after stage 4:

1.  Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team 13:19:09  
2.  Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha Team at 0:00:43  
3.  Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Leopard Trek at 0:00:49  
4.  Maxime Monfort (Bel) Leopard Trek    
5.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 0:00:53  
6.  Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) HTC-Highroad at 0:00:58  
7.  Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) Pro Team Astana at 0:00:59  
8.  Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) Movistar Team at 0:01:03  
9. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Movistar Team    
10. Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team at 0:01:04  

11. Dan Martin (Irl) Garmin Cervelo at 1 minute, 06 seconds
27. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 2 minutes, 11 seconds

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