Tony Martin’s victory at Paris-Nice has confirmed his potential as a future Tour de France contender and he has made it clear he is ready to step up and target another yellow jersey in France in July.
Martin won Paris-Nice ahead of proven Tour de France contenders Andreas Klöden (RadioShack) and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky).
“With a long time trial, this race was made for me”, Martin admitted after pulling on the yellow jersey in a rainy Nice on Sunday afternoon.
“There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders before Paris-Nice. Now I’ve won the race, I feel good. It’s the biggest success ever in my career. I’m so happy but I need some time to take it in. I’m just thrilled to win now.”
“The bad weather wasn’t really to my advantage. I can ride in the rain but when you wear the yellow jersey, you’re always afraid of crashing. I was not afraid about freezing. I was only afraid of crashing. I prefer to race in dry conditions. However, I’ve showed this week that I can be the team captain. I’m definitely stronger than last year.”
Martin was known as being the world’s second best time trialist after finishing behind Fabian Cancellara several times. He was the runner up to the powerful Swiss rider in both the Tour de France prologue in Rotterdam last year and in the closing time trial from Bordeaux to Paulillac. But he didn’t live up expectation in the mountains and finished a tired and empty 137th overall in Paris.
“I’ve learned from my mistakes last year”, Martin insisted. “The Tour de France is my next goal. In July I’ll try to go for GC again.”
HTC-Highroad's young pretender
The HTC-Highroad team is known for its sprinters and its powerful lead train that sets up Mark Cavendish for sprint victories. Michael Rogers was the team’s best placed rider overall at the Tour de France in 37h place. But the team now has some of the most promising young stage racers in the peloton.
Peter Velits was third at the Vuelta a Espana last year and the US team also has Tejay van Garderen, who will target the Amgen Tour of California before being considered for the Tour de France.
Martin has proved he deserves the role of team leader in July and is hungry to discover just how well he can do.
“I’ve had a fantastic start to the season; it gives me so much confidence for the next races and particularly for having a good Tour de France. I think I’m ready for it.” Martin said.