Love-hate Tour relationship for wounded Martin

Battered and bruised, Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider gets through Stage 2

After being transferred away in an ambulance shortly after the first stage it was highly unlikely that Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) was going to take the start of the second stage in the Tour de France.

The German time trial world champion was diagnosed with a concussion, a contusion on his left lung and severe damage on his hip, left knee, shoulder and back. Nevertheless the damaged 'Panzerwagen' got the ok from the team doctor and took the start in stage 2 in sunny Bastia on Sunday morning. The first TV-images showed that the 28 year-old pedalled well. Surviving the four categorized climbs in the Corsican heat would be another challenge. Martin eventually finished the stage in the grupetto with teammate Mark Cavendish at 17:35 from stage winner Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Leopard). Martin might have been scratched, he clearly wasn't down and out completely.

After crossing the line at the scenic Pointe de la Parata near Ajaccio it became obvious Martin was in good spirits. He didn't mind to talk with the media though his bloodied clothing clearly showed the signs of a rough day.

"The blood wasn't there when I stepped out of the bus this morning so it must've happened during the stage," Martin wondered allowed with nonchalance.

"Actually it's not too bad. First of all I was happy that I was able to start here. My feeling was ok compared to the crash yesterday. I'm happy that I was able to finish today and I'm really optimistic now to continue," Martin said. "I could have stayed in the front but in the end I stayed with Cav. We need all power for him but it wasn't his day. It also helped me to reach the finish without stress and risks. I'm looking forward to an easy night."

Last year Martin was most unlucky in the Tour de France. He had a mechanical in the opening time trial. He broke his wrist on day 2 and after suffering another mechanical in the second time trial he abandoned. This year doesn't seem to be any better.

"I don't know what it is with me and the Tour de France. It's a love-hate relationship. Well, to be honest, right now there's more hate. Paris? I hope to make it but another crash might rule that out. The first goal is making it to Tuesday's time trial. Originally the dream was to take yellow there. That dream is over after today. Hopefully the wounds will heal during the coming days and weeks. I'll never get back to 100% but 90% would be good. Now the focus is a stage win, in the time trial or the team time trial, particularly because the team didn't take a win so far."


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