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Paris-Nice stage 6: Martin powers to time trial victory and overall lead

Stage 6: Rognes to Aix-en-Provence, 27km individual time trial

After yesterday’s shock result – where Andréas Klöden won a sprint to claim the yellow jersey – there were no surprises today. HTC-Highroad‘s supreme time-trialist Tony Martin started as the overwhelming favourite to claim victory in the 27km individual time trial and he duly delivered, beating Sky‘s Bradley Wiggins into second place by the convincing margin of 20 seconds.

Vacansoleil‘s Lieuwe Westra, who finished second to Martin in the time trial at the recent Tour of Algarve, set the early benchmark of 34:21 on the difficult down-up-down course which made it difficult for the riders to gauge their effort. He stayed on top of the timesheets for over an hour, briefly threatened by Alexandre Vinokourov, who was faster at the intermediate checkpoint but faded to come in 32 seconds behind. It was not until until Richie Porte – fourth in the time trial at the 2010 World Championships – that he was finally knocked off top spot. The Australian Saxo Bank-Sungard rider recorded 33:53, which would eventually be good enough for third overall.

Tony Martin claimed both the time trial and the yellow jersey (image courtesy of highroadsports.com)

In turn, Porte’s lead fell to Wiggins, who clocked a time nine seconds faster. This resisted all comers until Martin, running fourth-last, blitzed the first half of the course to reach the intermediate point 22 seconds faster than the Briton, and sustained his form to finish 20 seconds quicker.

Matteo Carrara, third overnight, lost 2:32 to Martin and tumbled down the GC to 15th overall. Samuel Sánchez, who would have been wearing yellow had he not lost out to Klöden in the previous day’s sprint finish, was a respectable 16th-fastest, but nonetheless dropped to eighth.

Race leader Klöden was last to go. Although he rode hard, by the checkpoint he was already 26 seconds down on Martin – who had started the day just 10 seconds behind – and continued to lose time over the second half of the course. Nonetheless his time of 34:10 was good enough for fourth on the day and kept him second overall.

In all, only five riders – Wiggins, Porte, Klöden, AG2R‘s Jean-Christophe Peraud and Westra – finished within a minute of the day’s winner.

Martin now finds himself in the yellow jersey, and stands an excellent chance of defending it all the way to Nice on Sunday. He leads Klöden by 36 seconds, with Wiggins a further three seconds back. He told the press later:

It was a good course for me, not too technical and with really good roads, and I knew I could do well on it. I started out full gas, saw I had a good advantage at the time check, and then tried to keep everything under control on the final climb.

Yesterday [Thursday] had been a hard ride through the mountains, and I didn’t keep anything back for today, so it was tough going both days. There were no particular tactics, just going all out.

While not taking anything for granted, he was confident that he can defend his lead:

This is one of my best ever victories, especially since I’ve taken the race lead. It’s still early in the season, but it gives me confidence for the races coming up, and for the Tour de France.

Now we have two tough days up ahead of us but I’m sure the boys will be up to the job, and I have quite a significant advantage. I think I can keep the jersey all the way to the finish.

Klöden said he had been too conservative in the downhill sections, but admitted he could not have prevented Martin from seizing the yellow jersey:

I should have taken more risks in the descent. It could have saved me some extra seconds. But it would not have been enough for the victory or to save the yellow jersey. We have to be honest: Martin was just better.

Stage seven is the longest of the race, taking the peloton 215 leg-sapping kilometres from Brignoles to Biot-Sophia Antipolis. The day’s route includes five categorised climbs, including a pair of back-to-back first category cols, the Côte de Cabris and the Col du Ferrier. And the stage ends with two lumpy 18-kilometre circuits around Biot-Sophia Antipolis, with the final 1.5km featuring around 80 metres of vertical gain. There will be plenty of scope for the RadioShack and Sky teams of Klöden and Wiggins to launch attacks against Martin, so his HTC-Highroad team will need to be prepared for a tough day of racing.

Stage 6 result:

1. Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) 33:24

2. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) +0:20

3. Richie Porte (Saxo Bank-Sungard) +0:29

4. Andréas Klöden (RadioShack) +0:46

5. Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R-La Mondiale) +0:55

General classification:

1. Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) 24:59:47

2. Andréas Klöden (RadioShack) +0:36

3. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) +0:39

4. Rein Taaramae (Cofidis)+1:10

5. Jean-Christophe Péraud, AG2R-La Mondiale) +1:14

Daily live coverage and highlights of Paris-Nice are being broadcast by British Eurosport.

Links: Paris-Nice official website, Steephill.tv

Paris-Nice posts

Stage 1: De Gendt wins cat-and-mouse finish

Stage 2: Henderson escapes crashes, dedicates win to earthquake victims

Stage 3: Goss swerves and sprints to yellow

Stage 4: No doubting Thomases as Voeckler and de Gendt grab glory

Stage 5: Klöden edges out Sánchez

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

3 Responses to Paris-Nice stage 6: Martin powers to time trial victory and overall lead

  1. Sheree says:

    Great TT yesterday, Tony Martin was imperious and will be difficult, but not impossible, to dislodge.

    I know from personal experience how leg sapping that circuit around Biot will be this afternoon. It’s also very windy at the moment which, if it drops off, will allow the rain to fall.

  2. Pingback: Paris-Nice stage 7: Di Gregorio digs deep in Great Escape « The armchair sports fan

  3. Pingback: Paris-Nice stage 8: Voeckler singing in the rain, Martin wins overall « The armchair sports fan

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