Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) held his right side as he caught his breath at the top of Jebel Hafeet after getting a stitch in it in the final kilometres of stage 3 of the UAE Tour. Martin said later that he did not have anything left to give as he crossed the line to take fifth place and move into the top 10 overall.
It is the first time that Martin has raced in the UAE and he wasn't sure how he would react to the parcours and the style of racing that it lent itself too.
"It was fast. With a tailwind and obviously a super easy stage all day. As I've said before, it's a type of racing that we don't really do," Martin explained. "It's basically a sprint up the climb. I got stitch there in the end and I couldn't breathe. It was just from the type of effort that it is. It's so early in the season to be doing that type of thing. Obviously, we wanted to try to win the stage, like every day this week because it's our home race. I couldn't have done more."
Martin had looked comfortable up until that point, keeping the pace of Jumbo-Visma throughout the early part of the climb, and then following race leader Primoz Roglic when he made his first attack, before attacking him in return. But slipped back as he struggled to breathe under the effort.
"I saw when Primoz went that he was a bit on the limit and that's why I attacked," explained Martin. "I saw that he was really suffering, and I did it again but he still had the legs to accelerate after me and that's where I got dropped. It's a bit of the training that I'm missing at the moment. I'm pretty happy anyway."
Martin credited his team for the work that they did, Fernando Gaviria who switched to team duties after taking victory on stage 2.
"Our guys did an incredible ride for me today and I think it just shows the spirit of the team," he said. "Fernando won yesterday and then he was riding in the wind today. We're all here together to get the best result possible. Unfortunately, I didn't win today but I gave it everything."
Martin is currently 54 seconds off the race lead but just 23 seconds off the final podium spot. There is still plenty that can happen, especially in a race that is prone to crosswinds.
"For the GC, there are a few complicated stages to come like tomorrow. Every day is complicated here, we saw that yesterday with the wind. We'll just take it day by day," said Martin.