The seemingly never-tiring Egoi Martínez was once again in the thick of the action in Thursday's stage of the Vuelta a España.
The 35-year-old has been present in numerous dangerous breaks thus far in the race, but the veteran and his team is still looking to be rewarded.
Vasil Kiryienka handed Sky a deserved win with a sensational solo move in the closing 40 clicks of the 18th stage from Burgos to the top of the brutal Peña Cabarga climb. The Belarusian had far too much in the tank for Martínez and the rest of the riders that made up the big break of the day, the Euskaltel rider eventually claiming fifth on the day.
"I made it into the right break again, but once again it wasn't to be", he said post-stage. "Kiryienka was very strong, and I knew it'd be hard to win if I didn't manage to cling onto his wheel. On his day he's so strong, and he was impossible to beat.
"Once I realized I wouldn't be able to catch up with him, I kept going at it for the sake of the team classification. We had a chance to gain time, so I emptied myself to take as much time as possible".
Martínez's efforts were not in vain. Due to his fifth on the stage, coupled with Samuel Sánchez's 15th and Igor Antón's 19th, Euskaltel solidified their place atop the team rankings. Heading into the last three stages, the team holds a 4:35 lead on Movistar.
On GC, 'Samu' maintained his ninth overall.
- (1, Vasil Kiryienka (Sky), 4:46:48)
- 5, Egoi Martínez, 1:42
- 15, Samuel Sánchez, 2:36
- 19, Igor Antón, 2:49
- 41, Mikel Nieve, 5:26
- 64, Jorge Azanza, 8:49
- 68, Mikel Landa, s.t.
- 79, Juan José Oroz, 11:09
- 97, Gorka Verdugo, 12:13
- 138, Pablo Urtasun, 22:16