Tour de France: Tough day for Tony Martin as a puncture denies him possible prologue victory
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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tour de France: Tough day for Tony Martin as a puncture denies him possible prologue victory

by Ben Atkins at 2:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate Sylvain Chavanel flies the flag for France on his birthday with unexpected podium finish

tony martinWorld time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) was cruelly denied a chance to take the first yellow jersey of the 2012 Tour de France but a puncture just after half way that forced him to change his bike. The 27-year-old German had matched the then best time, set by teammate Sylvain Chavanel, at the 3.5km checkpoint, but suddenly stopped in the middle of the road and dropped his bike against the barriers.

The Omega Pharma-Quick Step mechanic had the World champion’s spare bike in double-quick time, but the incident cost him big time and he eventually slumped to 45th place, 23 seconds behind winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan).

“I had a flat tyre after the first split time," Martin explained. “I could feel that I was slipping away on the last roundabout and thought 'OK, maybe it's just a little bit slippery,' but then I realised I had a flat in the back and had to change the bike.

“I think it was a quick change, but it kills the morale and the rhythm,” he continued. “I'm really disappointed. I still have a good time, and I think would have a made a really good time without the flat tyre. I wanted to fight for the Yellow. I'm disappointed, but I thought 'just keep on fighting, the long time trials are coming.' I can tell I have very good condition and now I have to fight now for the next time trial.

“Now my goal is to keep the morale, stay in front, show the strengths of myself and the whole team, and try again in the long time trial,” he added.

Chavanel on the other hand, resplendent in the tricolore skinsuit of French champion that he won for the fourth time last week, was very happy with his ride. Starting 113th of the 198 riders the rider who was celebrating his 33rd birthday eclipsed the best time so far, set by Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) half an hour previously, and held off all comers for more than an hour before race favourite, Boasson Hagen’s teammate Bradley Wiggins finally went a fraction of a second quicker.

The French champion’s time was eventually good enough for third on the day, as Cancellara went faster still than Wiggins.

“I did a great race,” said Chavanel. “I wanted to make a good performance.

“From the beginning of the season I'm doing good in the time trials,” he explained. “I knew that the specialists could have beat me, but I'm super happy in any case. I have no regrets. I really did my best to honour my brand new French champion jersey. It's a third place in a prologue of the tour against the best time triallists of the world.

“I'm disappointed for the flat tyre of Tony,” he added. “Today he was really strong and he could have fought with Cancellara until the end. The Tour is just getting started. I have time to try to attack and do something good.

“Today is my birthday and even without a victory, we are going to celebrate!”

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