Dan Martin lit up the late kilometers in Wednesday’s 167km 11th stage at the Vuelta a España in a solid outing to keep alive his GC ambitions.
Racing in the King of the Mountains jersey, Martin pulled clear of the lead bunch of overall contenders with about 3km to go up the grinding, 19km final summit in the four-climb stage from Verín to the Manzaneda summit.
French rider David Moncoutie won the stage out a successful breakaway of 19 riders while Martin was eventually reeled in and crossed the line 22nd with the lead group of GC contenders at 3:08 back.
Martin nudged up to 23rd at 4:38 behind new race leader Bradley Wiggins.
Speaking before the start of the stage, Martin said he would not defend his polka-dot climbers jersey. And, in fact, he lost it to a rider in Wednesday’s breakaway.
“I wear the polka-dot jersey now, but I am not thinking of this jersey at all,” Martin said. “The mountain’s classification is made for breakaway riders. I’m here for the mountaintop finishes to try to win another stage.”
The 66th Vuelta continues Thursday with the hilly, 167.2km 12th stage from Ponteareas to Pontevedra across Spain’s Galicia region that could see the sprinters have another shot if a breakaway cannot manage to pull clear of the main pack.
Garmin-Cervélo’s Heinrich Haussler could be the team’s best shot after sprinters Tyler Farrar and Murilo Fischer have both abandoned with injuries.
“I am feeling better as this Vuelta goes. I think I will try to get into a breakaway again at sometime, but the most important thing is to get out of this Vuelta stronger,” Haussler said. “The sprints might not be for me yet. I think the best bet for me is to try to win out of a breakaway. There should be a few more opportunities in this Vuelta.”
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