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Dan Martin comes close in late Clásica attack

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Daniel Martin (Garmin - Sharp)

Daniel Martin (Garmin - Sharp) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Fabio Taborre beats Rebellin and Dan Martin in the sprint

Fabio Taborre beats Rebellin and Dan Martin in the sprint (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The hilly Liege-Bastogne-Liege terrain should play to the strengths of Daniel Martin (Garmin-Barracuda).

The hilly Liege-Bastogne-Liege terrain should play to the strengths of Daniel Martin (Garmin-Barracuda). (Image credit: Sirotti)

A late attack by Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was the most serious challenge that Luis León Sanchez faced on his nine-kilometre mad dash to victory in the Clasica San Sebastian. Timed at just six seconds behind with three kilometres to go, the Irishman could not quite bridge the gap and was reeled in by the pack, but it was a brave effort nonetheless.

"If I'd had another 50-metre margin, maybe they'd have hesitated a bit more behind and it might have made the difference," Martin told Cyclingnews as he stood outside his team bus in warm early evening sunshine.

"I was a bit disappointed in the bunch sprint [where he took 18th]. I had what I thought was perfect position. I was on [Greg] Van Avermaet's wheel in third position coming out of the little 'S' bend [at around 500 metres to go], but we got swamped from behind and there was nowhere to go, I ended up not even sprinting, but this race is always a bit of a lottery."

"At the same time, Luis León [Sanchez] was super strong to be able to hold us all off, and that was impressive."

As for his final last ditch dig across, Martin said, "I had been following and following, but everybody was on the limit on that last climb [of the Arkale] and I still felt pretty good so I went for it. If I'd had just a little bit more margin, I think people might have hesitated, but at least I had a go."

Martin said that he had been feeling a bit "ring-rusty" with a longish gap not racing after the Olympics, as well as feeling tired after the Tour de France, but that his San Sebastian performance made him feel optimistic about the series of one-day races he'll now be tackling in August.

"I'm quite excited, I really like the one-day races, I'll be doing Hamburg, Plouay and the Canadian ones."

"Today was really about blowing the cobwebs away, so hopefully I'll be able to build some form now."

Two other strong racers in the finale were Sky's Sergio Henao, second in the Tour of Burgos and in the last break again prior to Luis Leon Sanchez's final move, and Henao's teammate Richie Porte, who attacked late on and finally took 24th. "We were a little bit out of position when Sanchez went," Porte said, "The Colombians did really well, and it shows well for what's coming up for the team."

"This is a tough race, we did nearly 2,700 metres of climbing today and the heat was having an impact on a lot of the guys.

"But I didn't come out of the Tour too badly, and my conditions been pretty good all season. It looks really good for the Vuelta [a Espana]."

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.