Dan Martin Diary: Legs good again on an up and down day

Run-ins are tough so my big objective is to stay safe and keep out of trouble

Orica-GreenEdge’s Australian rider Michael Matthews celebrates his stage  victory at theTour of Spain, a 174.3km stage between Sober and Lago de Sanabria. Photograph:  Jose Jordan/AFP/Getty Images.

Orica-GreenEdge’s Australian rider Michael Matthews celebrates his stage victory at theTour of Spain, a 174.3km stage between Sober and Lago de Sanabria. Photograph: Jose Jordan/AFP/Getty Images.

Thu, Aug 29, 2013, 11:29

Stage five, Sober-Lago de Sanabria (168.4 km): It was a good stage. After a slightly rough one on Tuesday, the legs felt better on day five of the Vuelta. It’s probably just the case that Tuesday was the first really hard day of the race, the first chance to blow the cobwebs off, and the body seems to have bounced back well.

There was 3,000 metres climbing on stage five but we thought there could be a sprint from a thinned-out peloton.

The team worked really hard, chasing the break and bringing it back to set up our sprinter Tyler Farrar to have a go at the finish.

The run in was really typical: there were loads of kickers and rollers, little climbs in the last 10km

Harder stage
After all the climbing all day, it was a much harder stage than it might have looked. Tyler did really well to get to the finish today, especially as many other sprinters were dropped.

While he wasn’t in the ideal position just before the sprint opened up and he ended up fifth, his ride shows his form is excellent.

With two sprint stages coming up next, we hope to set him up for the win.

There was a strange moment during the stage. Myself and Nico [Nicolas Roche] were going along, talking to each other, when Nico looked over and said ‘see this guy – what the heck?’

“We were in the middle of nowhere and there was this guy just standing there with a huge Irish flag. He didn’t even acknowledge us as we rode past him, even though we were yelling at him to get his attention.

He seemed completely out of it . . . it was kind of funny.

It is pretty unusual how many Irish flags you see out here in these really strange places. We seem to have a bit of a Spanish following, me and Nico. It is quite funny. I guess they like the Irish nationality.

We are in Galicia and there seems to be an Irish influence here. The theme tune to the Vuelta this year is very Celtic in the way it sounds. We hear it every morning at the start, and it’s very like Irish music.

Maybe it is a good sign – it certainly worked for Nico on the second day anyway!

He is feeling good after taking that win on day two. I think he would like to have held on to the green points jersey longer, because of the colour of it. But he has the mountains jersey until at least Saturday.

That is good for him anyway – he is on the podium every day in his spotted jersey. I am really happy for him being successful here. He is looking good.

Less stressful
We were able to have a good chat again during the stage. It is something nice about the Vuelta. We have probably spoken more in this race already than in the whole of the Tour de France. This race is a hell of a lot less stressful than the Tour, that is what is nice about it.

We had another dead end finish to the stage – after crossing the line, we ended up riding back along the final 6km in the opposite direction in order to get to the team bus. Once we were there, we had to begin the second long journey of the day.

It was something like one hour and 45 minutes to get to the start in the morning. As I write this, we are still on the bus over two hours after the finish. We are still not at the hotel yet because we had something like a 190km drive. And we’ll have the same again today, I think.

Obviously with a long transfer like that, it means the hotel meal is later than usual.

There’s food on the bus and we can shower and eat after the finish. I had some cereal afterwards, and we also have recovery drinks as well. They help the body to start the refuelling process before we get to the hotel and have a proper meal.

The area here is really beautiful here; it is actually where the world championships are going to be next year.

I was talking to one of the Movistar guys. He said he was thinking about why the world championships are there next year. He said to me, ‘you know how the government works in Spain’. I am not really sure what that means. But I think we can read between the lines.

Apparently there is only one hotel in the town where the championships are being held. So that is going to be quite interesting. The town is in the middle of nowhere. Absolutely stunning scenery, but the worlds are going to be peculiar!

Next up are two sprint stages. The run-ins are quite technical so my big objective is to stay safe, keep out of trouble. If I lose a bit of time through a split in the bunch, I don’t really mind. The important thing is to keep upright, and also to save energy before the big day in the mountains on Saturday.

There is a possibility the next stage is going to be quite windy as well. This area is known for its crosswinds. That always makes things a lot more nervous, so I just hope it doesn’t happen. It would be good to have a relatively relaxed day in the peloton; there’s plenty of hard stages ahead.