21 year-old Dan Martin moved up to second place overall in the Route du Sud stage race after an impressive top ten finish in Friday?s 16.9km mountain time trial to Cauterets Cambasque in the Pyrenees.
Martin set a time of 37-44, finishing sixth on the stage won by Noan Lelarge of the Bretagne Armor Lux team. Martin is now just 17 seconds behind Lelarge according to provisional results.
The Frenchman can clearly climb but will have defend his lead against the talented first year professional during Saturday?s tough 180km stage in the heart of the Pyrenees. The stage starts with the Col du Tourmalet and also includes the Col du Val Louron, the Col du Peyresourde and finishes at 1800m on the climb to Super Bagneres.
Martin showed what he can do in the Pyrenees as an amateur in 2007 by winning the climber?s jersey in the Ronde de l’Isard stage race and so has a great chance of overall victory.
Martin is the son of former British pro Neil Martin and nephew of Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and world champion Stephen Roche. He was British national junior champion in 2004 before opting to ride for Ireland. He raced in the South of France for VC La Pomme for several years, catching the attention of Slipstream because of his talents as a pure climber.
He set himself up for an excellent result in the Route du Sud by getting in the big 17-man break that took 36 minutes from the rest of the field on the opening day of the Route du Sud.
The race split up on the run-in of the 206-kilometre stage as Simon Gerrans of Credit Agricole attacked to win just ahead of Hubert Dupont of Ag2r La Mondiale. Martin was an excellent fifth, at 20 seconds.
Martin is only in his first season as a professional but has already impressed his team mates at Slipstream. Team manager Jonathan Vaughters made a special trip out to the time trial to see Martin race.