Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) has taken a strong step towards overall victory at Paris-Nice with today's win in stage six's 27km individual time trial. The 25-year-old German took over the race lead from Andreas Klöden (RadioShack), the 2000 Paris-Nice champion, and now leads his compatriot by 36 seconds overall with two stages remaining. For Martin, the Paris-Nice stage win was the 18th victory of his professional career and his 12th time trial success.
"To wear the yellow jersey is super nice for me," Martin said. "It's like the Tour de France here. Paris-Nice can give me the confidence I need for my future. Today I've showed that I can handle the pressure and be a real captain for the team."
Martin found his inspiration for cycling at a time when the sport garnered plenty of coverage in Germany but this is no longer the case.
"When I was a kid, Jan Ullrich was my big idol but I also watched Klöden racing," said Martin of Klöden, 10 years his senior. "He's a big rival for me in this race but we're good friends. We live close to each other."
Martin commented on the absence of German media on hand to cover Paris-Nice. "I'm sad about it," Martin said. "I know the situation. In my country, cycling is always in relation to doping. Fans and media don't trust us. Now we have to convince them that we're doing a clean sport.
"Today I went to doping control. I hope that fans and media will come back. Fortunately, all over the world, there are fans and media for cycling. Our sport is popular everywhere else in Europe. I'm not concerned about Germany only."
Twenty-four hours prior to Martin's call for German media to come back to cycling, Klöden stated that journalists from his country don't have his number. In recent years, he hasn't helped the sport to get a positive exposure but his young compatriot is likely to start a new era for German cycling together with John Degenkolb and Marcel Kittel who are strong time trialists as well as sprinters in the making. Degenkolb and Kittel respectively race for HTC-Highroad and Skil-Shimano but hail from the same development team as Martin: Thüringer Energie.