Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) featured in the main breakaway on stage 15 of the Vuelta a España on Thursday and in doing so took enough points to secure the overall mountains classification with three days still to go before the finish in Madrid on Sunday.
Martin was first across four of the day's five third-category climbs over a wet and windy 230.8 kilometres from Mos to Puebla de Sanabria, but was eventually caught by the bunch, with UAE Team Emirates' Jasper Philipsen winning the day.
A total of only 53 points are available to win on the remaining climbs of this year's Vuelta, meaning that Martin's 55-point buffer over second-placed Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) is enough for the 27-year-old Frenchman to take the blue-and-white polka-dot jersey all the way to the finish.
"It was a long and tiring stage," Martin said on his team's website. "The breakaway took around 60 kilometres to form, and I made a lot of effort trying to get into it.
"After the first climb, it was difficult to find the space to attack, and it took me a lot of effort to get back to the breakaway. But I felt good, and that allowed me to secure the polka-dot jersey, and I'm very happy about that."
While Martin was left slightly disappointed by not having been able to stay in contention with the main GC riders on stage 13 of this year's Tour de France to Le Puy Mary having come into the stage in third place overall, he nevertheless finished 11th overall in Paris, and improved upon his previous-best Tour finish of 12th in 2019.
He helped Julian Alaphilippe win the rainbow jersey and went on to finish 13th at the World Championships road race in Imola, and then 14th at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He looks set for at least a top-20 finish overall at the Vuelta on Sunday.
Despite securing the mountains classification at the Spanish Grand Tour, Martin nevertheless would have liked to have had the option to have competed for the stage victory on Thursday, which could indicate that there's more to come from him in the coming days, rather than resting on his laurels.
"I was frustrated that the breakaway got caught," Martin said.
"If we had worked a little bit better together, we would have been able to increase the gap to the peloton. But with the headwind, it was really difficult.
"After that, I didn't have time to go back [to the team car] to take a K-way [rain jacket], and that made it difficult for me to finish the stage because of the wind and the rain," he said. "Now, I'll try to recover well to see what I can do next, now that the jersey is secured."
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