Velits, Martin lose time on Luz-Ardiden stage
HTC-Highroad entered the Pyrenees in a strong position with both Tony Martin and Peter Velits riding high in the top ten, but after today's Tour de France stage to Luz-Ardiden the team will have to reassess its GC aspirations.
Velits, third in last year's Vuelta a España, crashed on the descent of the first climb and failed to recover, finishing 4:15 down, while Martin blew on the Tourmalet and lost over 9 minutes. Velits now lies 6:03 in 14th position, and Martin 10:51 in 26th.
"I felt perfect at the beginning and I had really good legs on the first climb," Velits told Cyclingnews just as the HTC-Highroad doctor attended to his wounded leg at the finish.
"Then the downhill started and the guys from Europcar crashed and I was just behind then and had nowhere to go, and I went down also. After that it wasn't anything special but my bike was broken, I had to change bikes three times and I was losing time each time."
The team ordered Tejay Van Garderen to drop back and wait for Velits, but soon after Martin was dropped as Leopard Trek set about dismantling the peloton.
"Tejay waited for me and we were going at a good pace, not losing any more time to the lead group, but after losing that much time I lost a lot of energy and power."
Despite their initial hope of placing both riders in the top ten, Velits is still holding out for an improvement as the race heads deeper into the Pyrenees and then the Alps.
"I hope that the crash won't affect me too much and I'll try my best in the coming days. It's bad luck but these things can happen. Both Tony and I stayed out of trouble during the first part of the race and I will try for a good position on GC, but it's hard to say at this stage. I'll hope to get stronger as the race goes on but after the crash the body can be tired."
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