With the Tour de France due to start in exactly three weeks, Dan Martin showed evidence of improving form with a strong ride on the mountainous seventh stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné in France on Saturday.
Martin was one of the most prominent riders on the finishing climb of Pipay, attacking several times and also riding hard in pursuit when other riders put in their own surges.
He eventually crossed the line fifth, 10 seconds behind the stage winner Wout Poels (Team Ineos). The latter caught Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team) and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) close to the line, and then blasted past to take victory.
“There were a lot of climbs today and it was a real tester for the legs,” said Martin. “The weather conditions were difficult with the temperature dropping so much in the last five kilometres. It was really cold out there. I tried to make the best of it, in the end the race was very tactical, with everyone looking at each other. Fifth is pretty decent and tells me that the condition is there. We’ll try again tomorrow.”
Fuglsang takes over the overall lead, moving up three places from fourth. He ended the stage with an eight-second advantage over previous leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and is a further 12 seconds clear of the rider in third, Tejay Van Garderen (EF Education First). Martin improves two places to 10th overall and is one minute 21 seconds behind with one stage remaining.
Meanwhile, Nicolas Roche finished 34th on the opening stage of the Tour de Suisse in Langnau im Emmental, Switzerland. The 9.5 kilometre time trial was won by the Australian Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida). Roche was 26 seconds back.