Martin Wins Stage 12 TT; Froome Tightens Grip on Tour de France
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has won Stage 11 of the Tour de France. The German, who suffered a concussion, among other injuries, in a Stage 1 crash, powered over the flat, 33-km course from Avranches to Mont Saint-Michel in 36:29. Chris Froome (Sky) was the only rider to finish within 1:00 of Martin, finishing 0:12 behind the Omega Pharma-Quick Step man. Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) took third at 1:01. Froome remains the yellow jersey, and he extended his lead today.
Martin was the 34th of 182 starters. He posted his time, which bettered De Gendt’s standard, and waited for the other riders to finish. None of the lesser riders came near him, and Froome aside, neither did any of the GC contenders. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) came closest at 1:31, followed by Bauke Mollema (Belkin) at 2:05, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) at 2:12, Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) at 2:15, Roman Kreuziger (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff) at 2:18, Cadel Evans (BMC) at 2:30, Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) at 2:32, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) at 3:28, and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) at 3:29. Martin put the competition to the sword.
So did Froome, and he nearly beat Martin. The final starter was ahead of the German at both checkpoints, and Martin admitted feeling anxious when he learned about the Briton’s intermediate times. Froome, however, slowed somewhat during the run to the finish, allowing the world time trial champion to rejoice in his victory. Martin took the stage win, and Froome’s ride produced a major reshuffling of the general classification.
After being injured in Stage 1, doctors had to clear Martin to continue the Tour. When he got the green light, the German targeted Stage 11 as a goal. “The goal was always to continue the Tour de France because it’s a big honor for me to be here,” he said. “When the doctors gave me the okay to stay in the Tour de France, I always kept the focus on today’s stage. I knew I wouldn’t be 100 percent for the team time trial, but I knew I had a good chance to recover for today. I had all the support from the team staff to get me in the best condition that is possible after the crash. They did a fantastic job, and I can say the crash didn’t affect my performance today.
“The recon this morning was very useful, and I went very fast for the entire course. I knew that the final km were really windy, so I saved some energy for the final. I made the right choice considering how the race went. My times stayed the best all the way until Froome in yellow as the last rider on the course. It was super disappointing when I saw his intermediates. The first one was a second ahead and the second, two seconds ahead. I thought, ‘Man, if I get beat now by one or two seconds, just put the bike away and go home.’ But, he lost some seconds in the final. For sure, the stage suited me more than Froome, but in the climbs you can see he has incredible power. Still, it doesn’t matter if you win by one second or one minute. Now, I’m really happy with this victory and really motivated for the next days. I’m also really happy for the team as I think it gives us a lot of morale with a second stage win. In this way, we can continue with confidence.”
Fan misbehavior marred the stage. Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who collided with Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) and knocked him down yesterday, was doused with a cup of urine while racing today.
In the overall, Froome leads Valverde by 3:25 and Mollema by 3:37. Stage 12 will not change this state of affairs. The flat, 218-km run from Fougeres to Tours should see the sprinters dominate. Who will win? Cavendish? Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)? Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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