Tony Martin took third in the final 18km, Stage 6 time trial of Vuelta al Pais Vasco, which earned him a 5th place general classification ranking.
Television cameras followed the time trial world champion for most of his performance, and it was clear he was negotiating a highly technical course in nasty conditions.
"For Tony it was a very tricky course," Sports Director Brian Holm said. "Very hilly, small road, steep descents. it was a day where we cannot complain, because it was the same for everybody. Tony crashed this morning when training on course, so he did not take any chances on the corners."
Martin finished with a time of 28'55", but was bested by merely one second by Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) with a bike throw shortly after he finished. Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), meanwhile, overtook previous GC leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha Team) for the overall victory, and the stage win, with a blazing fast time trial finish of 24'48".
Holm is convinced Martin is showing his return to form.
"He's very strong," Holm said. "For sure, he's on his best now. Sanchez deserved the win. He was flying, and Euskaltel-Euskadi worked very hard all week for him. We can't deny he deserved the victory. Tony taking 5th in the GC is something we definitely can't complain about."
With Levi Leipheimer having to fly home to heal after suffering a fibula fracture from a scary bike/car accident on Sunday — in which he was hit from behind, and was scared he could have been killed — Martin took over the role of captain at Pais Vasco before the stage race began.
"We knew already Tony would be good here,"Holm said. "Also when Levi had to drop out over the accident, Tony took over responsibility well, and the team rode for Tony all week. It was a difficult race. There were a lot of crashes and a lot of rain. I think it was difficult for everyone here in Basque country."
Martin was certainly happy with his performance despite trying circumstances on Saturday.
"For sure I normally am very good for the time trials, but today there was rain, three really hard climbs, about 1km was super steep, and there were dangerous descents," Martin said. "It was more for the real climbers than me. At the end of this race, I think I am back at my best.I think it's still a good result and after my bad results in Paris-Nice, it shows me that I'm going better now from week to week. I think for the morale, it was a good day. Also, we gained some points for the UCI WorldTour, so I'm really optimistic now for the future."