Dan Martin sprinted to third in Tuesday’s first of six mountain stages to climb into 11th overall in the first major battle at the 2011 Vuelta a España.
Martin won an eight-second time bonus and settled into 11th overall, at 1:06 behind the new race-leader on the 170km fourth stage that finished high in the rugged Sierra Nevada in southern Spain.
“It was a good first test for Martin. It’s too bad the attacks came earlier, because he has a good sprint as he showed and maybe could have won the stage as well,” said Garmin-Cervélo sport director Bingen Fernández.
“He showed he’s good with third on the stage, so it’s a perfect first mountain stage for us.”
Martin said Tuesday’s fourth stage would reveal a lot about where he stood coming into the season’s third grand tour.
“I don’t think there will be big differences among the top GC riders, but it will be important to be there with the favorites,” Martin said
before the start in Baza.
“I want to make a good Vuelta, but I do not want to put a fixed number on where I would like to finish. I know I have good form and today will tell us a lot. I will take it stage-by-stage and ride to keep my GC options there. This Vuelta is
very hard so we will just have to see how it goes.”
Garmin-Cervélo’s Christophe Le Mevel also made it through the challenging stage considering his high-speed crash in Monday’s third stage. Le Mevel crossed the line 48th at 1:39 back and slotted into 33rd at 2:42 back.
“Christophe was banged up from his crash and when you have these type of muscular pains from a crash, it takes awhile to warm up the muscles. He was really suffering at the beginning of the stage, because had a hard climb right from the gun,” Fernández said. “He felt better as the day wore and was able to get through in pretty good shape.”
Grand-tour rookie Andrew Talansky confirmed his future promise by riding with the front GC group at 11 seconds back at 31st.
“I was surprised to be up there,” Talansky said at the line. “I am really happy to be up there today. Longer climbs are usually better for me and there was a bit of a headwind at the beginning of the climb, which made it a little easier to sit in. I was trying to get some water bottles to Dan and do what I could to help. I am happy with how it went.”
The 66th Vuelta continues Wednesday with another challenging stage in the 187km fifth stage from Sierra Nevada to Valdepeñas de Jaén. The roller coaster stage tackles two second-category climbs before the short, but very steep finale, with ramps as steep as 24 percent.
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