Tony Martin takes solo win as Tony Gallopin rides into yellow
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) has won stage 9 of the Tour de France in the Vosges mountains after attacking from a two-man breakaway on the biggest climb of the day. Martin had been leading the race with Cannondale’s Alessandro De Marchi before setting off alone on the first category climb to Le Markstein and powering away to his first road stage victory at the Tour de France.
Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) finished in the chase group more than five minutes ahead of the peloton, taking the yellow jersey off the shoulders of Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) in the process.
Stage 9 of the 2014 Tour de France featured six categorised climbs, the first of those starting just 3km into the stage. Points classification leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale) was the first to attack but was quickly brought back, while many riders were leaving the peloton in the opposite direction.
A group of 26 riders broke clear of the peloton on the second category ascent of the Col de la Schlucht, including Thomas Voeckler (Movistar), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Jan Bakelants (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). The KOM points at the top of the climb were taken by riders in that escape (led by Voeckler), before the group was reabsorbed by the peloton.
Tony Martin and Alessandro De Marchi got clear of the peloton a short time later, opening up a gap of roughly 30 seconds as the second climb of the day began. Yesterday’s stage winner Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale) had a mechanical in the main field and with the Astana-led main field riding hard, the KOM classification leader hard to dig deep just to get back on.
With 130km to go, on the slopes of the Cote des Cinq Chateaux climb, another group of 26 riders slipped clear of the peloton, again containing Joaquim Rodriguez, Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Fabian Cancellara (Trek) and Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol). Over the top of the third category climb, De Marchi took the two KOM points while Martin settled for one.
As the pair descended off that second climb their lead was out to 40 seconds over the then-fractured chase group, and 2:03 over the Astana-led peloton. At the top of the third category Cote des Cinq Chateaux, 100km from the finish, De Marchi again took the two KOM points and Martin one. The pair had extended their advantage on the climb, sitting roughly a minute clear of the first chase group and 3:15 in front of the peloton.
As De Marchi and Martin descended off the climb, the chase groups behind reformed, creating one group of 28 riders. The gap to the peloton kept growing, pushing out beyond four minutes and then beyond five minutes as the leaders hit the second category climb to the Cote de Gueberschwihr.
The summit of that climb came 84km from the finish with De Marchi again taking maximum points (five) ahead of Martin (three). In the chase group Joaquim Rodriguez appeared to signal his intention to fight for the KOM classification, leaping clear of his companions and taking the two points on offer ahead of Nicolas Edet (Cofidis – one point).
The day’s intermediate sprint point came in Linthal 65km from the finish with Martin taking the points uncontested from De Marchi. And with 60km to go, the pair had 6:33 over the peloton as they began the day’s biggest climb — the 10.8km ascent to Le Markstein.
Less than a kilometre into the climb, 59.1km from the finish, Tony Martin attacked Alessandro De Marchi in a moment that ultimately decided the race. Halfway up the climb the reigning world time trial champion already had 45 seconds on De Marchi, 2:43 on the chase group and 7:06 on the peloton. By the top of the climb, Martin had extended his lead again, taking maximum KOM points on the climb. De Marchi was second at the summit while Joaquim Rodriguez again came clear of the chase group, taking third place on the climb ahead of Edet.
The climb to Le Markstein and the final climb of the day — the third category Grand Ballon at 43km to go — were separated by just a handful of kilometres of undulating roads and when Tony Martin summited the final third category ascent he had 8:22 over the peloton. By summiting the climb first Martin ensured he would take the lead in the KOM classification by the end of the stage.
Meanwhile, in sight of the summit, Martin’s former breakaway companion De Marchi was caught by Joaquim Rodriguez who once again left the escape group behind in search of KOM points.
As Tony Martin began his descent towards the finish a solo victory looked almost assured — the German’s time trialling skills are without peer in world cycling and he’s also regarded as one of the world’s best descenders. With a little under 40km to the finish Tony Martin had nearly three minutes on the chase group and 8:12 on the peloton .
With roughly 28km to the finish, Tony Gallopin, who was 3:27 behind Vincenzo Nibali in the GC before the stage, attacked from the chase group. At that stage he was the provisional leader of the bike race but the Frenchman was keen to power on and get as much time as possible. Despite being assisted by fellow chase group riders Mickael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Fabian Cancellara (Trek) and later Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Gallopin wasn’t able to open up much of a gap, instead he just strung out the chase group.
With 14km to go, on the flat roads leading to the stage finish in Mulhouse, Astana increased the pace in the peloton somewhat, but there was little that could be done by that point. Tony Martin was cruising away to a comfortable victory and Tony Gallopin would be the new overall leader by day’s end.
Martin had plenty of time to celebrate, chatting with his director sportif long before the finish line and punching the air with more than 2km to go. In the end he crossed the line 2:45 ahead of the 20-rider chase group which was led home by Cancellara in second place and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) in third.
A rather relaxed-looking peloton finished the stage 7:46 behind Martin and 5:01 behind the chase group, giving Tony Gallopin a lead of 1:34 going into Bastille Day. Vincenzo Nibali is now in second place while Tiago Machado (NetApp-Endura) slots into third after finishing in the same escape group as Gallopin.
In the KOM classification Tony Martin now leads by one point over stage 8 winner Blel Kadri and Alessandro De Marchi. Peter Sagan still holds a comfortable lead in the points classification while Michal Kwiatkowski will wear the white jersey of the best young rider again on stage 10.
It’s another day in the Vosges mountains for the riders tomorrow with a 162km stage from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles. There are seven climbs on the day — one third category, two second category and four first category — including the first category climb to the finish which rises at an average of 8.5% for 5.9km.
Previous stage reports
– Stage 1: Marcel Kittel takes Tour opener as Cavendish and Gerrans crash
– Stage 2: Vincenzo Nibali wins in Sheffield and takes Tour lead overall
– Stage 3: Marcel Kittel doubles up in London, Nibali holds on to yellow
– Stage 4: Marcel Kittel claims his third stage as Vincenzo Nibali defends yellow
– Stage 5: Lars Boom wins on the cobbles of stage 5 as Chris Froome crashes out
– Stage 6: Andre Greipel sprints to victory on stage 6, Nibali holds steady in yellow
– Stage 7: Matteo Trentin wins in a photo finish, Nibali secures a sixth day in yellow
– Stage 8: Blel Kadri solos to stage 8 victory, Nibali holds lead after GC shakeup
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