Dan Martin finished fourth on Stage 19 of the Tour de France and climbed a place in the overall General Classification to eighth after a hard-fought race that he ended with a punchy sprint finish against his rivals.
It was another afternoon of climbing for UAE Team Emirates as they wrapped up their final day in the mountains at this year’s Tour.
The 200.5km route from Loudres to Laruns took the peloton over no less than six categorised climbs, including two brutal Hors Categorie (HC) mountains.
As the race progressed the peloton began to splinter along the road, with a number of riders attacking off the front during the Col de Tourmalet.
Martin remained true to his game plan, holding his nerve and his power to stick with the yellow jersey group throughout the stage.
After a fast decent off of the final climb, the Irishman showed the gutsy determination he has displayed throughout by contesting a sprint finish, which saw him earn yet another a top-five spot and climb one more place in the GC classification.
The race was won by breakaway rider Primoz Roglic, of Lotto NL Jumbo, in just under five-and-a-half hours.
Commenting on the race, Martin said: “Today we saw a group of very tired men trying to ride their bikes fast. The whole peloton is exhausted after three weeks of racing, but there was still a lot of attacking and aggression.
“It was a pity I didn’t get the stage victory, it was always in the back of my mind and that’s why I held on so hard on the climbs.
“It was a bit dodgy on the downhill with all the mist, but that’s just another dimension of the Tour. Roglic managed to get away on the straight part of the descent [from the Col d’Aubisque] and we just couldn’t pull him back.”
Saturday, the penultimate day of the Tour, sees the riders take to the roads of the Basque country for the Individual Time Trial (ITT).
The 31km route from Saint Pee Sur Nivelle to Espelette isn’t one for the pure time trialists, featuring a lumpy parcours that will favour the punchy riders in the pack.
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