SAN DIEGO, July 10, 2013 – The world’s best time trial rider, Tony Martin of Omega Pharma Quickstep, suffered serious injuries on Stage 1 of this year’s Tour de France. But the tough German gave no thought to quitting the race before Wednesday’s time trial.
Martin is glad he stuck around, winning the individual time trial by seconds over Tour de France leader Chris Froome of Sky Racing Team. It was a nail biting few hours for Martin. He set the time to beat early, then had to sit and watch dozens of riders trying to beat his time.
No one came close until Froome. Although not known as a fast time trial rider, there is a saying that the yellow jersey gives you wings. Froome went past the first time check one second ahead of Martin’s time, then two seconds ahead at the second time check. The last six miles of the 20 mile time trial route put riders against a strong head wind, and it slowed Froome down just enough to give the long suffering Martin a much deserved victory.
“To be honest, I’d almost given up hope of the stage win,” said Martin. “It was starting to look very disappointing when I saw Chris beat my times at the intermediate check. I nearly started to cry. I couldn’t believe it … I expected that Froome might get to within 30 seconds or something like that but not beating me at the intermediates.
“Now I’m really happy and maybe it’s nicer to win this way.
“Luckily some of my skin is back [after the accident of stage one] and I can sleep on my back again. I’m more-or-less recovered … When I heard that I could continue the Tour de France I knew I wouldn’t be 100 per cent there for the team time trial but I always expect to have a good performance today and I’m really happy now that I could do that. At the end of the day I’m the lucky guy and I think I deserve a little bit of luck.”
Froome’s speedy second place was all he needed to keep and extend his lead over his rivals. Most of the riders in the top ten lost several minutes to Froome.
The worst performance came from former Tour winner Andy Schleck. He’s never been known for riding good time trials, but he put in an awful ride. Schleck will hope to gain time back in the Alps and perhaps he will need to be satisfied this year with a few stage wins. Cadel Evans held on to 14th place, now nearly seven minutes back of the lead.
Alejandro Valverde rode an admirable time trial to stay in second, as did Alberto Contador to move into fourth place. Froome gained another two minutes of time on both Spaniards. They will try and get the time back when they hit the mountains as they are both strong climbers.
But so is Chris Froome, and after today it appears even more likely that this is Froome’s race to lose at this point. But there are still nearly two weeks left and a lot can happen, including accidents and illness.
The standings after the time trial stage:
Chris Froome, Sky Racing Team: 42 hours, 29 minutes, 24 seconds
Alejandro Valverde, Movistar, 3 minutes, 25 seconds behind
Bauke Mollema, Belkin, 3 minutes, 37 seconds behind
Alberto Contador, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 3 minutes, 54 seconds behind
Roman Kreuziger, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, 3 minutes, 57 seconds behind
Laurens Ten Dam, Belkin, 4 minutes, 10 seconds behind
Michal Kwiatkowski, Omega Pharma Quickstep, 4 minutes, 44 seconds behind
Nairo Qunitana Rojas, Movistar, 5 minutes 18 seconds behind
Due to his excellent time trial effort, Kwiatkowski took back the young rider’s white jersey. Pierre Rolland retained the King of the Mountains jersey; Peter Sagan has a substantial lead in the competition for the sprinters’ green jersey. The Movistar team now has the team lead.
Thursday’s 135 mile Stage 12 route is flat and one of the last remaining stages for the sprinters to come out and play. Mark Cavendish will be looking for another stage and a little revenge after Tuesday’s stage. He’s taken a lot of heat from fans for bumping into rider Tom Veelers on the finish line. The outcome will rest in part on how much energy various team members have after today’s time trial for a strong lead out.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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