"A bad day" for defending champion
Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) was left flummoxed by his performance in the opening stage of Paris-Nice, a 9.4km time trial, where he finished in 28th position, 25 seconds behind winner, Gustav Larsson (Vacansoleil-DCM).
World individual time trial champion Martin said he was keen to put the result behind him.
"This day I have to check off as quickly as possible," Martin wrote on his website following the stage saying that he had been aiming for victory first up.
"At no stage of the race could I find my strength and my rhythm," he continued. "I'm stumped and could tell that it was not just my day. Yes, a bad day, bad day of form."
Martin, 26, began his season at Volta ao Algarve last month where he finished second on general classification to Sky's Richie Porte. In his blog post, he revealed he had been suffering a cold since the Portugese race.
"But I do not want to use as excuses," he said.
While Martin was left unimpressed by his own fortunes, he was buoyed by the result of new teammate, Levi Leipheimer who finished on the podium with his performance.
"For us as a team, it does indeed look not so bad. Levi finished third. This is a good starting point for us," Martin concluded.
Last week, Martin downplayed his chances of going back-to-back at the 'race to the sun', saying: "It's always very difficult to repeat a victory, especially as the course isn't ideal for me, with two short time trials," he told the DPA news agency.
Paris-Nice continues Monday with a 185 km second stage between Mantes-la-Jolie and Orléans.
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