Tony Martin metres away from one of the most impressive results of the past decade
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tony Martin metres away from one of the most impressive results of the past decade

by Shane Stokes at 5:02 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Rider launches solo break of over 170 kilometres

Tony MartinTony Martin underlined why he is a double world time trial champion today with an astounding performance in the Vuelta a España. Attacking just after the drop of the flag and remaining clear for almost the entirety of the 175 kilometre stage to Caceres, he was only reeled in inside the final 30 metres.

He was overhauled by stage winner Michael Morkov (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) and Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack-Leopard), netting seventh by virtue of the fact that he was so close to the finish when passed.

Martin’s solo feat – which would have been one of the most impressive victories of the past decade had he pulled it off – saw him hold some of the world’s strongest sprinting teams at bay right until the very end. The most notable aspect was that the gap was just fifteen seconds with fifteen kilometres to go, yet he ramped up the speed and was able to fend off the recapture until he was a stone’s throw from the line.

“It was an unusual time trial of almost four hours,” Martin said afterwards in a team release. “I decided to enter the breakaway to try and protect the team, because even if I was caught, in the final we would also have Gianni Meersman and Andrew Fenn to be able to do something good in the sprint.”

Martin attacked, gained a few minutes and then decide to keep going. “Actually I think it was a good move. I always went pretty good. I have to say the tailwind helped me. Without it, there was no chance to go until the end. In the final the gap was really small. At ten kilometres to go they were really close, and I thought about giving up. But no, I decided to relaunch the action and then I started thinking when they couldn’t close the gap that maybe I can do it after all.”

According to Garmin-Sharp team leader Dan Martin, the Omega Pharma Quick Step rider used his brain as well as his brawn.

“I think it was very intelligent. I was very surprised that he was able to stay out there…we seemed to catch him really quickly. With fifteen kilometres to go I think he had less than a minute or something. You could see him just there with five or six kilometres to go, but then he kept holding off and holding off.

“Obviously if you give Tony some space, he is strong enough to be able to do that kind of thing,” he told VeloNation.

“He was playing games with the peloton and letting us get closer. He obviously saved all his energy for the last ten kilometres and got really close to a stage win. It turned what would have been a pretty boring stage for the TV viewers to one of the most exciting.”

Martin said that the up and down terrain towards the end worked against him but he kept giving it everything. “I stayed focused on the finish line. It was a strange feeling. I saw the stripe of the finish line and could hear the peloton behind at the same time,” he said, describing the finale.

“But I was really going all out with my legs. I couldn't go any faster than I did in the last 200 meters. Unfortunately, they caught me. As usual when you do something like that it's always bittersweet. From one end you think you could have won with a bit more luck. On the other hand, I felt like a winner.”

Martin earned enthusiastic praise from many afterwards, with the fans, fellow professionals and the media each applauding the effort he had put in and the coup he very nearly pulled off. He said that everyone wanted to speak to him at the finish, and that this helped him get the feeling that he had done something “great and difficult.”

Needless to say, he was the winner of the combativity award for the stage, earning podium time.

“It was really special to be there in front of the public. If I want to think positively it was also great training for the World Championships. The line between doing something super and losing is really thin in this sport, but you have to try.

“I think it was the first time I did a breakaway like this, especially for so long. Even if I didn't win I will have it in my memories for a long time.”


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