Ruled out of the Tour de France due to tendonitis, Ireland's Daniel Martin fortunately avoided a premature end to another Grand Tour campaign yesterday.
Martin (Garmin-Slipstream) made his Grand Tour debut yesterday, but crashed shortly after the start of the 4.8-kilometre time trial on the motor circuit in Assen, Netherlands.
"I felt really good and just got unlucky with the weather," he told Cyclingnews. "My front wheel slid out at the third corner. I tried to pick it up on my knee, Moto GP style, but my elbow and the rest of me followed."
It started raining about thirty minutes before Martin start time, 17:17. He started his first Grand Tour completely wet.
"I'm a bit pissed it [the crash] wasn't on TV, but there you go. I'm a bit banged up but it could have been a lot worse. Apparently I didn't lose much time, which is cool and shows how well I'm going."
He placed 173rd, conceding 47 seconds to the stage winner, Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank).
Martin showed good form leading into the race, placing fifth in last Sunday's GP Ouest France in Plouay. He jumped across to a four-man group in the closing kilometres and felt that he would have been closer to the win had he not misgauged his gearing in the final sprint. "I was leading until 75 metres to go, then the gear got too much."
His compatriot Philip Deignan (Cervélo TestTeam) also started the Vuelta yesterday, making it the first time that two Irishmen have ridden a Grand Tour since the days of Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche.
Deignan, from Letterkenny, finished 36 seconds back in 116th place. Deignan stated afterwards that the strong winds made things very difficult for him.
"I knew today wasn't going to suit me because I am not really a time trial specialist," he wrote on his website philipdeignan.com.
Deignan placed 116th, 36 seconds back from Cancellara.
The Vuelta a España continues today with a flat 202-kilometre stage from Assen to Emmen. The goal for both Irish riders is to avoid crashes and time losses in the first few days of the race, then ride strongly once the Vuelta moves into the mountains.