At the mid-point of the Vuelta a España and following a day in the breakaway on stage 10 to Rincón de la Victoria, Cofidis leader Guillaume Martin has moved up to second overall, 1:19 up on race favourite Primož Roglič.
The Frenchman, who said before the race that he was aiming for a top-10 finish and a stage victory, now finds himself in the thick of battle at the top of the general classification, having gained almost 12 minutes in the break on Tuesday.
He now hopes to keep fighting for his GC position in the second half of the race, with the first challenge coming with Wednesday's stage 11, a steep hilltop finish at Valdepeñas de Jaén.
"I'm trying to hold onto this now," Martin said following his stage 10 gains.
"And why shouldn't I try to win a stage in the coming days? There are still plenty of nice stages coming up in this Vuelta."
Martin found himself in a battle for the red jersey with Odd Christian Eiking (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) during stage 10, as the breakaway's advantage leapt to well over the 10 minutes required for either man to overhaul Roglič.
In the end, Martin couldn't get the better of the Norwegian, who led him by 29 seconds at the start of the day, instead finishing 12th, and a further 29 seconds back as Michael Storer (Team DSM) won the stage. Eiking pulled on the red leader's jersey, with Martin now second at 58 seconds. Roglič is third at 2:17.
Martin's day out front day was reminiscent of stage 14 of the Tour de France, where he jumped up to second overall after making the day's break, eventually ending up eighth overall in Paris.
"It was another hectic stage with a very fast start and a lot of passages through villages and towns," Martin explained.
"I saw after about 60 kilometres that there was still no early breakaway and then I tried to go with it. That worked out in the end.
"At first it wasn't my intention to get as much time as possible in the general classification. However, I saw that the lead was getting bigger and bigger and did start thinking about the red jersey at one point.
"I tried to get away from Eiking on the final climb, but I wasn't stronger than him. Then I lost time in the descent. The roads were slippery, and I still have some demons after a crash I had at a training camp at the start of the season. I don't want to fall like that again."
Daniel joined Cyclingnews as staff writer in 2019 after working as a freelancer around pro cycling media for the previous seven years.
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