MADRID, March 21, 2013 (AFP) – Irishman Dan Martin stormed into the lead of
the Tour of Catalonia with an impressive victory in the fourth stage of the
race on Thursday.
The Garmin-Sharp rider surged clear with nearly eight kilometres remaining
of the gruelling 217.7km kilometre ride from Comprodon to Port Aine to finish
36 seconds clear of Joaquim Rodriguez and also move 10 seconds ahead of the
Spaniard in the overall standings.
However, the big news of the day was the retirement from the race of
Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde.
The Spanish rider had been leading after the first three stages of the tour
but he and teammate Eros Capecchi crashed just short of 120 kilometres into
the stage and, although Valverde tried to continue, he eventually retired
after a further 10 kilometres.
Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzué said that both riders were heavily
bruised but he didn’t believe they had suffered any serious injuries.
Valverde’s crash also significantly altered the development of the stage as
the peloton slowed to see if he would return to the race, allowing a breakaway
pack of 23 riders to build up a significant advantage.
Martin was part of that group and whilst others struggled to maintain their
pace on the climb up Port de Canto he was strong enough to hold off breaks by
compatriot Nicholas Roche and Jose Herrada to move clear at the front.
Rodriguez and Nairo Quintana of the Katusha team then made late breaks to
take second and third respectively with Quintana also just 22 seconds behind
Rodriguez in the overall standings.
Last year’s Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins is a further four seconds
off the pace after he could only finish in sixth after Team Sky’s push in
trying to breach the gap from the peloton to the breakaway group left him
without support on the final climbs.
Results after Thursday’s fourth stage of the
Tour of Catalonia, a 217.7km ride from Llanars-Vall de Camprodon to Port
1. Daniel Martin (IRL/GRM) 6h 02min 40sec, 2. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT)
at 36sec, 3. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) same time, 4. Jurgen Van den Broeck
(BEL/LTB) 47, 5. Robert Gesink (NED/BLA) 51, 6. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY)
1:02, 7. Peter Stetina (USA/GRM) s.t., 8. Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) s.t., 9.
Tom Danielson (USA/GRM) s.t., 10. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 1:08
1. Daniel Martin (IRL/GRM) 18h 48min 38sec, 2. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT)
at 10sec, 3. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 32, 4. Bradley Wiggins (GBR/SKY) 36, 5.
Michele Scarponi (ITA/LAM) 39, 6. Robert Gesink (NED/BLA) 51, 7. Przemyslaw
Niemiec (POL/LAM) 1:00, 8. Peter Stetina (USA/GRM) 1:07, 9. Thibaut Pinot
(FRA/FDJ) 1:13, 10. Jurgen Van den Broeck (BEL/LTB) 1:15