Heinrich Haussler rode into the winning breakaway during Thursday’s hilly 174.6km 18th stage from Solares to Noja at the Vuelta a España.
Haussler lost contact with the front riders over a difficult, first-category climb late in the stage and was reabsorbed by the main pack.
“This Vuelta is ridiculously fast and hard”, Haussler said.
“I am trying, but stage wins are proving insanely difficult for me here.”
Dan Martin stayed safely tucked in the bunch Thursday to remain 14th overall. Already a winner of stage 9 at La Covatilla, Martin made a brave run for another stage victory Wednesday at Peña Cabarga to take fourth on the stage.
“There will not be any more chances for me to win a stage in this Vuelta because it was the last mountain stage,” Martin said.
“I am glad that I tried (on Wednesday). Maybe I went a little too early, but legs felt good. I came back to finish fourth, but the most important is that I tried.”
The transition stage at the Vuelta comes at a good time for the team, which is pushing ever closer to Sunday’s final stage in Madrid.
Garmin-Cervélo’s Sep Vanmarcke is fighting through the final week of the Vuelta after surviving a harrowing fall in Saturday’s stage to the Farrapona summit.
“My back is still hurting, but I am getting through the race. Every day I feel a little better,” Vanmarcke said.
“It was very scary when I fell because I was not sure if anyone saw me crash. It was a closed left-hander and a rider fell in front of me. I had nowhere to go and I fell off the road. It would mean a lot to me if I make it to Madrid after what I have been through with that fall.”
The 66th Vuelta continues Friday with the 158.5km 19th stage from Noja to Bilbao. The hilly stage features two short but steep climbs in a closing circuit that could provide a chance for Garmin-Cervélo to go on the attack to look for another stage victory.
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