Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervélo) again went on the attack on the mountain finish at Peña Cabarga as he chased a second stage win at the Vuelta a España.
This time his move did not come off and he was caught midway up the climb concluding the 17th stage. However, he had the legs to stay close to Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Juan Jose Cobo (Geox-TMC) and finished fourth at 24 seconds.
As he waited to be called into anti-doping, Martin admitted he had initially felt disappointed with the result but quickly began to see the positive aspects of his performance.
"When I first finished I thought I'd made an error in attacking so early but in hindsight, with how Cobo and Froome are going, I knew I had to at least try and beat them," he told Cyclingnews.
"Fourth on the stage is a good result. If I hadn't attacked, I might have finished third but that's no real big difference. I tried to win the stage and that's the important thing.
"I had good legs all day and the team did a great job protecting me. I was confident I could do something and I'm glad I did. What a beautiful climb. It was stunning. I enjoyed racing up that."
Martin moved up to 14th overall and is now 7:22 behind Cobo. He confessed he is not really interested in a good GC placing in Madrid. But he does want to try and win more stages before the end of the Vuelta on Sunday.
"For now Grand Tours are about winning stages for me. I've got one and tried hard today," he said. "Unfortunately we're running out of options and there are no more real mountain finishes before Madrid.
"Lots of breakaways will probably go clear and make it to the finish in the next few days, so that will make it difficult for me. But my legs are still good even if we're deep into the third week. But that's what this Vuelta is all about for me: learning and getting stronger."
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