Dan Martin went close to his target of a stage win on stage three of the Tour de France on Monday, finishing an excellent fourth into Huy.
The Cannondale-Garmin rider crossed the line five seconds behind Joaquim Rodriguez (Team Katusha) and Chris Froome (Team Sky), and one second behind Ag2r La Mondiale's Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiale).
He had said before the race that the stage would be his first big target of the Tour. Fellow Irish riders Nicolas Roche (Sky) and Sam Bennett were 103rd and 189th respectively.
The performance moves Martin up to 20th overall in the race. He will begin Tuesday’s fourth stage two minutes and six seconds behind Froome, who moved a step closer to repeating his overall win of 2013.
The three Irish riders will aim to steer out of trouble on the partially-cobbled 223.6 kilometre stage to Cambrai. After that, Bennett will hope to dispute the bunch sprint on the following stage.
Irish stage times
4. Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team) at 5 secs
102. Ruben Plaza Molina (Lampre-Merida) at 6 mins 13 secs
103. Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) at 6 mins 13 secs
189. Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) at 11 mins 45 secs
1. Christopher Froome (Team Sky) 7 hours 11 mins 37 secs
Irish: 20. Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team) at 2 mins 6 secs
112. Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) at 11 mins 18 secs
148. Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) at 14 mins 17 secs