After losing out on his initial objective of contending for the general classification, Tony Martin made a spectacular come-back at the Tour de France on its penultimate stage in Grenoble. Winning the stage seven seconds ahead of overall winner Cadel Evans (BMC), the German repeated his feat of the Dauphiné time trial on the very same course, thereby netting the fifth stage win so far for his team and the very first for himself.
"This is the realisation of a dream that I have had for a long time," Martin admitted after the race. "It's true, you could say that this is way of saving my Tour. When I saw that wasn't going to be able to fight for the GC because I couldn't follow the best in the mountains, my only goal was to win this time trial. So I got the victory and it's a very nice end to this Tour de France for me."
The HTC rider lost around nine minutes on the very first mountain climb of the Tour, the Tourmalet in the Pyrenees, and conceded even more time on the way to Plateau de Beille. In the Alps, he even had to join the gruppetto - but perhaps this was what made the German stay fresh enough to perform almost as well as he had more than one month ago. Today, he was only seven seconds slower than at the Dauphiné on June 8.
"Definitely my legs were more tired than four weeks ago, but I had learned a lot from the time trial in the Dauphiné," Martin explained. "So my rhythm was a bit different than back then, I knew where the important parts were on the course. Therefore I was stronger, but my legs definitely felt weaker at the end of this Tour de France."
The detailed knowledge of the parcours was what made the difference in the winner's view. "I started out feeling really well and with all the self-confidence that I had from my victory in the Dauphiné. I knew the course and rode my own rhythm, I was able to make up quite a lot of time on the long descent.
"I think I had an advantage on that descent with regard to other riders because of my size and power, it was a very hard descent where you had to continue pushing the pedals quite a lot."
Another master of the discipline, Fabian Cancellara from Leopard Trek, finished 1:42 behind Martin. "That's a lot, perhaps his conditions on the road were not the same as mine. But I think in future I will battle a lot against him," the German added, admitting that he may set back his GC goals in the future to favour the competitions in which he succeeds: time trials and shorter stage races.