Martin Wins Tour de France ITT
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) has won the penultimate stage of the Tour de France 2014. Der Panzerwagen (the tank), as he is nicknamed, dominated Stage 20, a hilly, 54.5-km time trial from Bergerac to Perigueux, leading at both checkpoints en route to victory in 1:06:21. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) finished second at 1:39, and Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) finished third at 1:47. Maillot jaune Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) finished fourth at 1:58, extending his overall lead and positioning himself to win the race when it ends tomorrow in Paris.
Danny Pate (Sky) set the early standard. The American posted a 1:09:22. Pate’s time withstood assaults by Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge), Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge), and Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling), the last of whom fell 0:11 short of the Sky man when he punctured.
Barta (NetApp-Endura) obliterated Pate’s time when he stopped the clock in 1:08:08. The Czech time trial champion led at all of the checkpoints.
He did not lead long. Martin was on the course, and he bettered all of Barta’s intermediate times. At 19 km, the German was 0:35 faster than Barta, and at 39 km he led the Czech by 1:28. At the final checkpoint (48 km), Martin was in the lead by 1:38. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step man began the day as the favorite to win the stage, but no one expected him to lead the stage by more than a minute and a half.
Dutch time trial champion Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) and French time trial champion Sylvain Chavanel (IAM Cycling) tried to narrow the gap, but neither could get close to Martin. The Dutchman finished 1:39 behind the German, while the Frenchman finished at 2:36.
There was sorting out of the final standings to do, and the heads of stage finally got on the road to do it. Nibali gained time on all of his rivals with his fourth place finish. The day began with 0:15 separating runner-up Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr), third placer Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in fourth. Peraud vaulted over Pinot by finishing seventh at 2:27, while Pinot finished 12th at 3:12, with Valverde failing to make the podium. Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) started in fifth overall, only to see sixth place starter Tejay van Garderen (BMC) overhaul him and take fifth by 0:02 when the Frenchman punctured. Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) leapfrogged from ninth to seventh, and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek) jumped from 10th to eighth, while the Belkin duo of Laurens Ten Dam and Bauke Mollema fell from seventh and eighth, respectively, to ninth and 10th , respectively.
Martin feels that his stage wins and those of teammate Matteo Trentin are testaments to the resilience of Omega Pharma-Quick Step. The Belgian squad lost Mark Cavendish to a Stage 1 crash and had to rebound psychologically. "We were all really sad when we learned Mark Cavendish couldn't continue the Tour de France after the first stage," the German said. "In the beginning we were really down, but already in the second stage we continued fighting. We always showed we're a strong team. We wanted to fight for Cav and win stages. We were able to win three stages with a great team spirit. I'm really proud of how we stayed together and kept fighting. Now we all can be really happy and can enjoy one or two glasses of champagne tonight. We will celebrate and then look to Paris tomorrow with big motivation."
In the overall, Nibali leads Peraud by 7:52 and Pinot by 8:24. Stage 21, the final stage of this year’s Tour de France, will begin as a procession for Nibali, but it will end with a bunch sprint on the Champs Elysees. Who will take the flat, 137.5-km run from Evry to Paris? Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano)? Peter Sagan (Cannondale)? Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
Check out our road bike shop , training diary offer and stay tuned to RoadCycling.com for video highlights from the one-day race La Course by Le Tour de France in our videos section on Sunday, July 27 (Viewable only from within the USA).