UAE Team Emirates rider Dan Martin put in a heroic performance on Stage 17 of the Tour de France although his brave pursuit of a second stage win was just not quite enough as he had to settle for second place behind Movistar’s Nairo Quintana.
It was another top five finish for the team though – a result which sees the Irishman continue his pursuit of a top 10 General Classification (GC) finish.
Martin, who held his nerve among the yellow jersey group for the first half of the race, decided to make his move with less than 12km to go as he pursued the breakaway riders.
Showing true grit and determination, the 31-year-old continued to close the gap on the race leader and eventually secured second place just 28 seconds behind Colombian climbing specialist Quintana.
The race began with an unusual Formula One grid style start, with UAE Team Emirates’ Kristijan Durasek quickly taking his opportunity to be part of the day’s breakaway.
The Croatian performed well and dropped off to make way for team mate Martin who excelled as a solo chaser of Quintana on the third and final climb of the day.
Martin said: “The last two or three days I have felt really good. It’s a really good sign. I planned to go earlier and that’s why we had Kristijan in the break. But it’s okay to say ‘attack early’, but there is so much wind on those early climbs so it wasn’t worth it.
“I had good legs and felt I could do a good last climb. I took advantage of the pace and they let me go and Nairo came with me, and then he attacked me and went so hard but I wanted to settle into my own tempo – it almost turned into a time trial to the top.
“I was trying to keep him at 10 or 15 seconds because at 500m I could usually close that gap, but at this altitude it was tough. He was the better guy on the day, but I was really proud of how the team and I rode today.”
With the result, Martin climbs up to ninth in the GC and sits 6:33” behind the leader, Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas, who finished third.
After two hard days in the mountains, Stage 18 will give riders some respite, with just two category four climbs featuring on the 171km route from Trie-sur-Baise to Pau.
The sprinters will have an eye on this race, looking to climb the standings and get back into contention, but the peloton will have to manage the breakaway carefully to avoid any major upsets.
Know more about Sport360 Application