Martin in race against time to make Worlds after crashing out of Vuelta
Dan Martin's storming rtide at the Vuelta a Espana came to an abrupt halt when he crashed out of the three-week race while lying in third place overall on Saturday.
Martin had been just 33 seconds off the race lead when he was involved in a huge smash with 50km remaining on stage eight.
While Martin suffered a separated shoulder in the incident, he wasn't the only one forced to abandon the race, with Nacer Bouhanni (dislocated wrist), Tejay van Garderen (broken collarbone) Jesper Styven (broken scaphoid) and Kris Boeckmans (facial injuries, three broken ribs and a punctured lung) all hospitalised.
Boeckmans was worst-hit with the Belgian rider placed in an induced coma after undergoing surgery on Saturday night.
"I was in the wrong place at the wrong time again," said Martin yesterday. "But a separated shoulder is nothing compared to some of the others. I came away relatively unscathed."
It's been an unfortunate year for Martin, who also broke two ribs in a crash at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in May.
Having come agonisingly close to two stage wins at this year's Tour de France, Martin looked primed to challenge for the race lead in Spain as the Vuelta headed into the big mountains.
Originally expected to compete at the world road race championships for Ireland in Richmond at the end of the month, it's now uncertain whether Martin will return to action before the end of the season when he will end an eight-year association with his current Cannondale-Garmin squad to take up a new two-year contract with Belgian WorldTour team Etixx-Quickstep.