Dan Martin’s Vuelta Diary, Stage 3: The legs are feeling better as both Nico and I are getting close to top form
Things could get interesting in the weeks ahead with my cousin looking like a real contender
Obviously my cousin Nicolas Roche and I aren’t team-mates like when we were in the London Olympics together, but we still may be able to help each other out. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Stage three, Vigo to Mirador de Lobeira (172.5km): Fifth on the stage and up there fighting at the end; I’m going much better than I expected at this point of the Vuelta a Espana. I definitely needed Sunday’s mountain stage to take away the sluggish legs that I had and I felt a lot better after yesterday’s stage.
I knew the finish was one that could in theory be good for me, but because I was playing it cautious with my training after being sick in the Tour de France, my hopes weren’t too high. As I said before the race, it will take me a week or so to really start firing on all cylinders. Yet I realised during the stage that I was feeling really good.
All day I had the impression that my legs were definitely coming back. I think the harder race with the crosswinds we had favoured me – it was an aggressive day as regards fighting for position, and I could feel myself coming around. My Garmin-Sharp team-mates Johan Vansummeren and Tyler Farrar were fantastic for me, really helping me stay in the right place.
At the end it came down to a pretty big group arriving at the bottom of the final climb, the four kilometre Mirador de Lobeira/Vilagarcía de Arousa.
I had really good position heading into the foot of it. The Orica GreenEdge team riders went really hard right from the five kilometres to go mark. I knew that hectic pace would have to slow at some part, so I just stayed on the wheels waiting for that.
Nico [Nicolas Roche] attacked with just over a kilometre to go. I thought it was the perfect move, but people weren’t willing to give him as much leash as he got on Sunday. After winning the stage and moving up to second overall, he is obviously a marked man now. He was closed down by the others. As the group stalled I went for my big attack but suddenly the road was blocked in front of me, with guys moving into my path. I had to slam on the brakes and that was the same moment that Chris Horner attacked.
It was the perfect point to jump and he got a gap on the others, then held on to win. I had to reaccelerate after being blocked and just try to follow Alejandro Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez, the riders who finished second and third overall last year.
I had to weave around a few other guys at the finish, but to get fifth on the stage already is really promising for the next few weeks. I really didn’t expect to have my form where it is so soon. It should continue to pick up so I am really happy going forward. The legs are just getting better and better, so that is a massive bonus.