Things getting hot on Spanish tour

Fifth on stage four a good return after a flat sprint

Dan Martin (blue jersey) finishes fifth behind stage winner John Degenkolb of Germany in Cordoba yesterday. photograph: Jose Jordan/Getty

Dan Martin (blue jersey) finishes fifth behind stage winner John Degenkolb of Germany in Cordoba yesterday. photograph: Jose Jordan/Getty

 

Fifth in a flat sprint, no, you didn’t imagine it. Some of you might have been surprised to see me up there, mixing it with the sprinters, but when we were coming in towards the finish I felt that there was no reason why not to give it a go. There were still time bonuses for the top three and while I didn’t really expect to be so prominent, it was nice to give it a shot.

Going for the sprint wasn’t really anything to do with me finishing second on Monday, and being frustrated with that. It was more the case that I am feeling good and just enjoying racing. It’s nice to get involved when you feel like that.

Too far

Tony Martin

I didn’t want to launch the sprint with 300 metres to go because I would just die. So I took a gamble and tried to get on the guys’ wheels as they came past me. I got into their draft, having the legs to be able to accelerate after them.

It is a small victory, taking fifth in a bunch sprint like that, but it is just me having fun. It is just a bit of racing.

As I mentioned before, this Vuelta is really, really hot and that was the case again on the stage. We are drinking two litres an hour at the moment, trying to stay hydrated. When we got to the bus at the finish, it was 44 degrees, it’s a real wall of heat.

That temperature is having a big effect on everyone. The race is almost in slow motion at the moment as a result, and this explains in turn why we are finishing the stages late. What’s interesting is that if you look at the average power for each stage, the actual physical effort is nothing compared to what it would be under normal conditions. But because everybody is so hot, they are all dropping like flies.

As I mentioned already, I tend to tolerate the heat better than most. That’s partly about being lean, and also to do with living in Spain and acclimatising to it. Still, I’m not going to take anything for granted, with that sort of unrelenting heat you don’t really know how you are going to be. One day you can be good, the next day you can be terrible.

Three things are important: drinking well, eating well and also keeping the fingers crossed.

There were two climbs on the stage, a third category ascent and a tougher second category climb. It was great to get some decent hills into the legs as it has been 10n days or so since I last did a proper climb, back in the Tour de l’Ain. It’s nice to be able to test the legs and see how they are.

What was encouraging is that I felt really good, really comfortable the whole way up. I wasn’t under pressure, so that is really promising for the next few days.

Of course, we have to wait and see how things are. It is a completely different kettle of fish when you are really racing up a climb, going eyeballs out, rather than just riding up in a group.

Stay safe

Once we get to stage six I’ll give it a real go. It is the first proper hilltop finish of the race and is going to be tough for everyone. It is only a short climb, maybe four kilometres, but it’ll show who is going well and who is not.

Normally a climb like that would suit me, and particularly with the legs that I have at the moment.

We’ll see – I would love to get the win there, but it might be tough with the way Nairo Quintana is going at the moment. He looks good and his team-mate Alejandro Valverde really seems to be riding for him. But I’ll try.

Again, it’s difficult to know how the general classification guys are going as nobody has really gone to their max yet. I know I’m feeling good; we’ll see then how they are going.

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