La Vuelta 2012 Stage 4: Martin 2nd on Mountain Finish
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Tony Martin went for the stage win in the 160.6km Stage 4 of La Vuelta a Espana on Tuesday. He battled his way to a two-up sprint, and finished 2nd.
Martin and eventual race winner Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) separated themselves from an original five rider break, which escaped just a few kilometers into the race and built up more than 13 minutes of a gap at one point.
Martin and Clarke attacked just kilometers into the 13.4km Category 1 climb Estacion de Valezcaray, which averaged 5.2% with a maximum gradient of 9 percent. While the gap was reduced to just minutes in the final kilometers, the gap was more than enough for the two riders to focus on beating each other to the line for the stage win. Martin, time trial specialist, led the way as Clarke, who has a track background, chose to let him do the work until the final 500 meters to conserve power for his sprint. Clarke beat Martin to the line by two seconds. Assan Bazayev (Astana) was 3rd, 22" back from the duo.
The peloton also fracutured due to crosswinds, forcing multiple echelons. Race leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) crashed as the peloton was fracturing, and he was unable to chase his way back to the first chase group that included other GC contenders. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) is the new GC leader.
"I was motivated to go into the breakaway," Martin said. "All the team was in the front in the first kilometers. I took the first attack and we went immediately. The pace in the breakaway was really good, we collaborated very well. In the last climb I hadn't the energy to make the difference, especially because of the heat. It was another incredibly hot day.I tried to leave him to take the lead but he stayed with me. I launched the sprint but I knew he was faster then me. I'm happy about my race. Today was really hot and wasn't so easy to stay in the front with only five guys. My condition is improving. I trained good before coming here and I'm really looking forward to the time trial next week and — why not — to try to grab a stage victory in one of the next stages."