World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) stormed to victory on stage 11 of the Tour de France after a stunning individual time trial from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel.
On a day which saw Chris Froome (Team Sky) finish second and increase his GC lead to 3’25”, Martin underlined his dominance on a time trial bike.
The stage was marred, however, by allegations some spectators jeered Martin’s Omega Pharma-Quickstep team-mate, Mark Cavendish, who also had urine thrown at him.
Nevertheless, Martin was delighted to have overcome the injuries he sustained after crashing on stage one, but admitted Froome – who set the fastest pace through the two intermediate time checks – had worried him.
“First of all, I had a terrible last 30 minutes,” he said. “I didn’t expect Chris Froome to come so close.
“The stage today suited me much more than him but you already saw in the climbs he has incredible power.
“I’m really happy he lost some seconds in the final few kilometres.”
Back on the road, eight-time Canadian time trial champion Tuft (Orica-GreenEDGE) set the early benchmark having rolled off the ramp second.
He raced through the 9.5km timing point in 10’43”, and with lantern rouge Dmitriy Muravyev in his sights at the second intermediate point (25’35”), he passed the Kazakhstani to record a final time of 38’04”.
Vacansoleil-DCM’s Lieuwe Westra was the only rider close early on, having passed the first timing point eight seconds slower than Tuft, but his challenged faded as he finished 1’02” off the pace.
Olympic track team pursuit gold medallist Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) came in 2’05” slower, before team-mate Ian Stannard beat the Welshman’s time by two seconds.
Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp) finished in 39’06” to be placed third for much of the first couple of hours.
Dutchman Lars Boom set a quick time into Ducey at the 9.5km timing point, beating Tuft’s mark by less than a second, but he slowed towards Courtils before finishing in Le Mont-Saint-Michel 1’08” behind.
Martin rode at a blistering pace to Ducey however, setting a new benchmark of 10’21” – 22 seconds faster than Boom and Tuft.
He continued to set the pace, passing the second checkpoint in 24’42” – just minutes after Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil) had set a new fastest time, to give Martin a 39” lead.
With Lars Bak (Lotto-Belisol), and then Jeremy Roy (FDJ), moving into second at the finish, all eyes were on the world time trial champion further down the road.
And he did not disappoint, racing through in 36’29” – 1’01” faster than De Gendt, and a further 24 seconds quicker than Tuft at an average speed of more than 54km/h.
After his ride, Martin, crowned world time trial champion for the first time in 2011, said: “For a few days it was very hard [coping with injury], but as we got nearer to the time trial I have become more focused for today.
“I felt good in the team time trial too, despite injury, and I felt good again today.”
Commonwealth champion David Millar (Garmin-Sharp) gave himself a chance of a top-ten finish with a time of 39’03”, making him the fastest Brit at that point, but his effort would eventually only been good enough for 26th.
Spanish champion Nicolas Castroviejo (Movistar) and green jersey leader Peter Sagan (Cannondale) also posted quick times of 38’21” and 38’47” respectively.
Tejay van Garderen (BMC) posted a quick first time split, but he quickly faded, as did French champion Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), who finished in 38’06”.
Richie Porte (Team Sky) had no such problems however, maintaining a good pace throughout to finish in 37’50”, which moved him into third place.
With nobody coming close to Martin’s time, attention turned instead to the general classification, with Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) the first big-name contender onto the road, although he would only finish 21st, while Andy Schleck finishing 4’43” behind Martin and outside the top 100 for the stage.
Omega Pharma-Quickstep’s Michal Kwiatkowski regained his white jersey, finishing in 38 minutes flat, to move him back ahead of Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in the GC by 34 seconds.
With Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) both looking to avoid losing too much time on Froome, the Kenyan-born Brit flew through the first 9.5km in the quickest time of the day.
Contador finished in 38’44”, with team mate Roman Kreuziger three seconds back, while Valverde clock 38’41”.
Froome extended his lead over Martin through the second time check, beating the German’s time by two seconds.
He could not maintain his pace, however, ultimately finishing just 12 seconds back, but the time he took out of his GC rivals means it has proved to be an outstanding day for Froome.
He said: “I’m really happy with that result. Tony did a fantastic ride. He really deserves that.
“I’m really happy with second and having extended my advantage,” he said. “There was a really strong headwind in the last couple of kilometres – I was really struggling to turn my legs and was just trying to get to the finish.
“That gives me a good buffer going into the next few days. I think I’m going to need every second I can get the way these guys are riding.”
Tour de France 2013 – stage 11 – result
1) Tony Martin (GER) Omega Pharma-Quickstep 36’29”
2) Chris Froome (GBR) Sky Procycling +0.12″
3) Thomas De Gendt (BEL) Vacansoleil-DCM +1’01”
4) Richie Porte (AUS) Sky Procycling +1’21”
5) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +1’31”
6) Svein Tuft (CAN) Orica-GreenEDGE +1’35”
7) Sylvain Chavanel (FRA) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +1’37”
8) Jeremy Roy (FRA) FDJ.fr +1’43”
9) Tom Dumoulin (NED) Argos-Shimano +1’45”
10) Nicolas Castroviejo (ESP) Movistar +1’52”
1) Chris Froome (GBR) Sky Procycling 42:29:24hrs
2) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) Movistar +03’25”
3) Bauke Mollema (NED) Belkin Pro Cycling +03’37”
4) Alberto Contador (ESP) Team Saxo-Tinkoff +03’54”
5) Roman Kreuziger (CZE) Team Saxo-Tinkoff +3’57”
6) Laurens Ten Dam (NED) Belkin Pro Cycling +4’10”
7) Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) Omega Pharma-Quickstep +4’44”
8) Nairo Quintana (COL) Movistar +5’18”
9) Rui Costa (POR) Movistar +5’37”
10) Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA) Ag2r-La Mondiale +5’39”