Tour de France 2014: stage ten – five observations

Post-stage analysis from La Planche des Belles Filles

Tony ‘The Panzerwagen’ Martin

There was a sense of deja vu when Tony Martin attacked on stage ten, bridging across to the early breakaway with team-mate Michal Kwiatkowski.

Just 24 hours earlier Martin, a three-time world time trial champion, formed a two-man break with Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale Pro Cycling) and subsequently dropped the Italian 60km from the finish to solo to victory, holding off a large chasing group and the peloton in the process.

Tony Martin was back in the break, this time riding in support of Michal Kwiatkowski, just a day after securing a superb solo victory, pictured, on stage nine (Pic: Sirotti)

This time Martin, whose win on Sunday marked his first victory on a Tour de France road stage after time trial triumphs in 2011 and 2013, was riding in support of a team-mate but his sense of purpose was just as strong.

Martin sat at the head of the escape group and drove it through much of the stage. With Contador at the side of the road following his crash, Nibali’s Astana team had a decision to make: to ease off the gas and allow the two-time champion to attempt to rejoin the peloton (though his injuries would eventually make that impossible) or to press on in pursuit of the breakaway, and it was the presence of Martin and Kwiatkowski, sixth overall at the start of the day and wearing the white jersey of best young rider, which forced the team’s hand. There’s no time for gentlemanly conduct when the race is on.

Martin, wearing the polka dot jersey after his stage nine solo raid, only pulled off the front of the escape group on the penultimate climb, the Col des Chevreres, and the 29-year-old almost came to a shuddering stop, such was his effort over the two days. He had done all he could to tee-up Kwiatkowski, who had around 20km to ride to the finish with the remains of the breakaway.

Kwiatkowski cracked shortly before the top of the Col des Chevreres but found a second wind on the descent and rejoined Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) at the head of the race for the final climb.

It took Nibali, who had jumped from the much-reduced chasing group led by team-mate Michele Scarponi, until three kilometres to go to pass Kwiatkowski, and Rodriguez was only swept up with 1.2km remaining – all thanks largely to the earlier efforts of The Panzerwagen.

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