Team Columbia-Highroad's young German hope Tony Martin may have been beaten by his French companions in Thursday's Paris-Nice stage, but as a consolation he moved into the lead in the mountains classification thanks to the day's seven categorised climbs including the category one Col de Benas. His 190km breakaway is made more impressive by the fact that he spent the better part of yesterday's stage four in the winning move.
"Tony has surprised me today, because yesterday he was very tired. But today he was very impressive," said Columbia's sport director Brian Holm to sid. "He is no Richard Virenque, but as an amateur, he has shown that he can climb well."
Martin, 23, wore the jersey of best young rider for two stages after placing fourth in the opening time trial. He lost over ten minutes on stage three, which gave him freedom to play in the breakaways. He now has a 14-point lead in the mountains classification over Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, who took second on the day.
However, he will now face the Queen stage of the race with two long, hard days of riding in his legs. Friday's 182.5km stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to the mountain top finish on La Montagne de Lure will be a tough test with five lower category climbs before the 15km climb to the top of the Mont Ventoux's little sister at 1600m.