Dan Martin was lying there on the asphalt on the top of Alto de Moncalvillo. “I hope Dan will be ok with me taking his picture like this,” thought our team photographer, Noa Arnon. You can’t blame her for wondering, but she had perfectly captured the touching scene of an athlete who went far beyond the limit. It was as admirable as it was touching. This the legendary DAN MARTIN story that continues to grow here in the LA VUELTA: And although he “only” finished 3rd today, it will maybe be remembered as his most impressive showing to date since the start of this race.
Because today it was a battle of the top riders in the Vuelta, a scene reminiscent of pistoleros in the Wild West: who will survive this standing? The first act of the play took place during the opening kilometers of the 9 km mountain that finished off the 164 km stage. Team Movistar has all their weapons available – Valverde, Soler, Mas – and they were throwing them one after the other. Attacks and counterattacks followed, and as we moved up, every scene in the play saw more and more contenders dropped.
So, there we were in the last kilometer – only four were left standing. Carthy (EF) couldn’t hold on and it was a battle of three. In the end, Primoz won it, Carapaz came second, and our own Dan Martin, who reacted to every single attack out there like the lionheart he is, came third.
Dan Martin: “It was another really challenging stage. When the break went, I didn’t expect to be fighting for the stage victory but obviously Ineos and Movistar had different ideas – the pace was on all day. I felt good on the last climb and decided to test the other guys. I paid for that effort a little in the end and when Primoz attacked in the last kilometer I had no response. At that point it was about getting to the finish line as fast as possible. I gave it everything I had, and we are really proud of the performance. It’s another difficult stage behind us and we have a different challenge ahead over the next two days just to stay out of trouble. We need to try to recover a bit before the incredibly difficult weekend.”
As the curtain closed on the final act of stage 8, our hero, who had given it all in the fight for the stage, lay on the asphalt saying, “I was tired and the road looked comfortable. Certainly more comfortable than my bike at that moment.”
Here is the GC situation going into stage 9:
1. Richard Carapaz- Team Ineos
2. Primoz Roglic – Team Jumbo Visma: 13 sec behind
3. DAN MARTIN – Israel Start-Up Nation: 28 sec behind
Noa Toledo Arnon & bettini