Israel Start-Up Nation’s team leader, Dan Martin, did well to follow the top GC contenders to finish fifth on the uphill finish on stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia.

On paper, today’s stage had breakaway written all over it. Therefore, it was no surprise to see a furious fight on the opening kilometers to make it into the right group. However, that mission proved to be more challenging than anticipated as it took almost 85 km before the break went away for good.

Despite the frantic start, the peloton never let the group get a gap of more than three and a half minutes, keeping a potential stage win for one of the GC riders alive. Towards the end of the stage, the front group split up leaving just a couple of riders with a gap of about one minute ahead of the chasing the peloton, where the ISN guys made sure Martin was always kept in a good position.

For a moment, it seemed like the winner would come from the breakaway but on the final uphill gravel section towards the line, Bernal (INEOS) caught the two leaders and soloed to victory. Martin crossed the line just 10 seconds down in fifth place, keeping his eighth place in the general classification. Bernal now also leads the race overall.

Dan Martin: “I got a bit swamped coming into the bottom of the dirt climb but at the end, I actually managed to get into a half-decent position. It was a tricky climb because when you’re riding on dirt you can’t really stand in the pedals, which is how I normally create my really high power. Also, there were a lot of guys coming back from the breakaway who were blocking the road, which caused me to go off the gas two or three times in the last kilometer, which wasn’t exactly ideal. This was another day where you could lose the race and I’m just happy to continue where we are. I’m looking forward to getting into the real mountains!”