September 4, 2011

Dan Martin rode to a spot in the top-20 in Saturday’s three-climb stage in Asturias at the Vuelta a España’s 175.8km 14th stage.

Martin rode with the elite group until the race-breaking attacks came in the final five kilometers of the new Farrapona climb and crossed the line 16th at 1:37 in a solid performance that proves he’s in top shape for Sunday’s onslaught of the Angliru summit finale.

Rein Taaramae won the stage and Bradley Wiggins held onto the race leader’s jersey. Martin settled into 21st overall at 5:36 back.

For other riders on Garmin-Cervélo, these grueling mountain stages are all about making it to the finish line.

German veteran Andreas Klier rode in with the “gruppetto” at 30:20 behind the winner’s time.

“This Vuelta is so hard. I have ridden nine or 10 Vueltas before, but this is the hardest one ever,” Klier said.

“I would like to be helping my roommate (Martin), but the courses are so hard every day that we are getting dropped very early in the stage. The idea for me at this Vuelta is to gain more fitness for the world championships. I hope to be selected for our German team because I believe we will have a very good team.”

Klier and Co. will be in for more suffering in Sunday’s 142.2km 15th stage from Aviles to the Alto de l’Angliru. Described as one of Europe’s steepest roads, the Angliru featured ramps as steep as 24 percent.

More photos from the Vuelta a España:
[flickr-gallery mode="tag" tags="2011, Vuelta" tag_mode="all"]