A solid ride in the first individual time trial of the race helped the 29-year-old hold on to his ninth place in the general classification.
One day after climbing on Mont Ventoux up to Chalet-Reynard, the riders faced the first individual time trial of this edition, held in the Ardèche department, between Bourg-Saint-Andéol and La Caverne du Pont-D'Arc, over 37.5 kilometers. The challenging course could easily be split in three sections: an uphill one which the riders tackled for 6.9 kilometers right after rolling down the ramp, a second rolling one on a plateau and the last which put on the table another climb, with a length of 3.3 kilometers and a 4.9% average gradient.
For Etixx – Quick-Step, it was a day in which the focus was on the two Martin riders of the squad, Tony and Dan. The 31-year-old German, a six-time winner of the ITT national title and triple World Champion of the discipline, was among the ones rated as having a chance at a top result on Friday afternoon, but even though he left it all on the road, Tony had to be satisfied with a 9th place in the end, thus paying for the huge effort of the past days, when he helped the team control the breakway and stay safe in the crosswinds.
"To be honest, I felt pretty tired after yesterday and the wind was very strong out on the course, making everything more dangerous, in particular on the downhill. I'm not looking for any excuses, just for some reasons so I can make a better analysis of my ride and of the result I got. After two weeks in the race, every power output counts and I suffered today on some parts of the parcours", said Tony Martin, winner of five Tour de France stages, three of which came in time trials.
Dan Martin, 9th in the standings after the Mont Ventoux stage, kept his place following the tough test against the clock, during which he decided to not take any risks, especially after getting news of a crash in which teammate Julian Alaphilippe was involved, fortunately without any serious consequences, just some bruises on his hand and back: "Safety first, that was my motto today. After hearing that Julian hit the ground, I went with a normal wheel instead of a disc one, at the cost of losing some seconds. Today, the wind definitely didn't favour the light guys, so considering this and the fact that I focused more on my climbing this year, I'm happy with this result. My goal is to make it into the mountains in one piece and healthy, because my legs are good and I'm confident."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele