Germany’s Tony Martin powered to an impressive victory in the ninth stage of the Tour de France after a 155-km mountain raid in the Vosges that saw Vincenzo Nibali surrender the yellow jersey to France’s Tony Gallopin.
Time-trial world champion Martin attacked after 15 km and dropped his breakaway companion with just under 60 left to win his third Tour stage following time trial victories in 2011 and 2013.
“It was perfect, there were no mind games in that breakaway,” Martin told a news conference.
“I just had to go, I knew I could ride very fast. Today everything worked perfectly, I had really really good legs, there were good conditions.”
Gallopin took the overall leader’s yellow jersey after Nibali’s Astana team did not chase hard to catch a counter-attacking group.
Gallopin leads Nibali
Gallopin now leads Italian Nibali by 1:34 minutes going into the 161.5-km trek to La Planche des Belles Filles but has little hope of retaining the lead.
Several groups attacked early on, with Martin of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step (OPQS) team and Italian Alessandro De Marchi leading the way.
Martin’s mammoth work helped the duo build a 6:30 minute lead over the peloton while the Gallopin group could not close the gap, gradually falling back despite the work of Rolland’s Europcar team mates.
Martin powered away with 59 km left at the foot the the first-category climb of the Col de Markstein, keeping the Gallopin group at bay while De Marchi struggled.
In what German soccer fans will see as a good omen, German rider Olaf Ludwig won a Tour de France stage on the day Germany beat Argentina in the 1990 World Cup final. The two countries were playing the final later in Rio de Janeiro.