Ireland’s Daniel Martin lies fourth overall with two stages remaining in the Tour of the Mediterranean in the south of France.
South African sprinter Robert Hunter (Barloworld) won Friday’s fourth stage from Greasque to Bouc Bel Air ahead of the new overall leader Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne).
But the race split to pieces after the first-category Col des Portes with Martin and his Garmin-Slipstream team-mate Danny Pate making the powerful breakaway.
At one point the lead group had more than 15 minutes’ lead over the bunch. On the flatter run-in both Martin and Pate slipped behind the sprinters Hunter and Sanchez.
But Martin was just 41 seconds down and now lies fourth overall and has the red jersey as the best young rider. He is 50 seconds behind Sanchez overall.
Saturday’s stage is back-loaded with the second-category Col de Roquefort and the first-category Col de la Gineste in the final 30 kilometres, which should be ideal for the climber Martin.
And if he is still in the thick of things but needs to make up time, Sunday’s final stage finishes with the testing ascent of Mont Faron, the famous hill which sits above the Toulon coastline.
Caisse d’Epargne hold the top two places overall, with Sanchez and Imanol Erviti. However, Garmin also have two riders in the top five, with Danny Pate just behind Martin.
Tour of the Mediterranean
1 Robert Hunter (RSA) Barloworld in 3-21-15
2 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne
3 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Francaise des Jeux
4 Damien Monier (Fra) Cofidis
5 Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Besson Chaussures all same time
8 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Slipstream at 41sec
36 Steve Cummings (GB) Barloworld at 4-20
39 Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 4-20
44 Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 4-20
47 David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 4-20
69 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 4-20
Overall, with two stages remaining
1 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 7-32-08
2 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 13sec
3 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Francaise des Jeux at 36sec
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Slipstream at 50sec
5 Danny Pate (USA) Garmin-Slipstream at 1-13
20 David Millar (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 4-29
21 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Garmin-Slipstream at 4-29
23 Chris Froome (GB) Barloworld at 4-31
24 Steve Cummings (GB) Barloworld at 4-31
26 Geraint Thomas (GB) Barloworld at 4-31