Dan Martin’s Vuelta Diary: I’ve got my worst stages out of the way so now it’s onwards and upwards

The important thing is that I got around safe, and to move up on the general classification is a bonus

Alberto Contador of the Tinkoff-Saxo team in action during yesterday’s 10th stage of the Vuelta a España, where he finished fourth and took over the red jersey.

Alberto Contador of the Tinkoff-Saxo team in action during yesterday’s 10th stage of the Vuelta a España, where he finished fourth and took over the red jersey.

 

The Vuelta a España restarted with an individual time trial after Monday’s rest day, getting everything going again with what is one of the toughest tests in the sport. We had a 36.7 kilometre race against the clock and it was important to give it everything. I ended up 40th in the end and moved up two places to 10th overall.

Was I happy? Well, my time trial was okay, but to be honest I’m a bit disappointed as I know I could have done better. I just mistimed my pacing a little bit. The start of the time trial had a long climb with a steep section on it. I went a little bit too hard there and then paid for it later on. As a result I really ran out of legs in the last 15 kilometres.

We had checked out the route beforehand, both after the Clasica San Sebastian in August and then again on the rest day itself. But the nature of the course was very hard to judge. I think pacing is mostly about experience. The fact is you don’t get to do many time trials, especially on courses like that.

Perhaps it is my build and the type of rider that I am; I can go really far into the red and then normally I recover. But obviously in the time trial you don’t really have a chance to recover. I got a bit over-excited on the climb, dug in too deep, but that’s the way it is.

Is a bonus

What’s strange about this year’s Vuelta is that we have done 10 stages, yet have hardly done any real mountains yet. Okay, we had a summit finish the other day but it was just an eight-kilometre climb and it didn’t really make much difference. From now on it is all to play for and it is definitely my territory now.

I have got my worst stages out of the way and to still be two and a half minutes off the podium is pretty cool. So onwards and upwards. I’m looking forward to it.

One of the big stories from the time trial was the crash of the rider who had been leading, Nairo Quintana. He hit the deck very hard on the descent from the climb. Ironically the road surface there wasn’t too bad; it was much worse later on, a bumpy road that they seemed to have forgotten to steamroll.

He went too fast into a curve, clipped the barrier and went down hard. I actually predicated before the race that one of the GC guys would crash. Obviously everybody was a bit cross-eyed from effort; you put such a big effort in on the climb that you become a bit delirious on the downhill and lose concentration very easily. It’s very easy for mistakes to happen.

I just hope he is okay to continue in the race. He is in incredible form and we would be robbed of one of the contenders if he couldn’t continue.

Talking point

Chris FroomeAlberto Contador

It looks like he got his pacing wrong too, something which was very easy to do on that course. If you give everything on the climbs, it can be deceptively hard in the last 20 kilometres.

As regards Contador, he finished fourth and took over the red jersey. He crashed in the Tour and fractured his tibia. Thing is, after the first mountain top finish, we could definitely see that he was letting on a bit in claiming not to have done much training. Obviously he is the only one who knows the truth, but the feeling is that most people believe he has been doing more than he actually said he was.

That’s worked out well for him; he came into the race with very little pressure and expectation, and now he is in the red jersey.

The thing is, when he crashed in the Tour he was in incredible form. Even if you have to have one or two weeks off the bike, you don’t lose form like that massively. It can come back quite quickly in that situation.

Next up is another hilltop finish. I did reconnaissance of that too so I know it. It definitely suits me and we will be giving it everything. I just have to hang on to the coat-tails of the Contador-Valverde-Rodriguez-Quintana-Froome battle and try to distance my rivals for the top 10.

If I get a chance, there is always the possibility of nicking a stage win on the way; we’ll see how it goes.

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