Tour de France: Near miss for Martin in Utrecht

Five seconds separate German from yellow jersey

Five seconds, that’s what separated Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) from winner Rohan Dennis (BMC), who grabbed the victory in the opening time trial of the 2015 Tour de France. Before the race Martin said that the 13.8km Utrecht time trial was a unique opportunity to grab the maillot jaune, a jersey the 30-year-old hasn’t been able to take on just yet. The German rider, who’s nicknamed der panzerwagen, had a hard time to deal with the near miss.

“A second place doesn’t matter to me. I came here to win and get the yellow jersey. That’s why I came here and it didn’t happen,” Martin said.

Halfway through the time-trial Martin was trailing Dennis by three seconds. In the second half of the course back to the square in front of the Jaarbeurs he lost two more seconds. Those figures didn’t match the sensations from the German rider, who believes that he lost the victory in the second half.

“I’m really disappointed. I wanted to win here. Everything else is a big disappointment,” Martin said. "I couldn’t really handle the big heat. I didn’t expect it but especially in the second part I was really tired because of the heat. During that second part with the longer section that suited me best I felt the power fade away. I was surprised that the heat was such a major factor on such a short distance. I think that in colder conditions I can do a better job. That’s the Tour de France. I don’t think I made mistakes in the preparation but I have to deal with the fact that the heat ruined it for me."

On Friday, Martin stated that the time trial suited him perfectly, not too technical and not too straight-forward. The distance didn’t bother him, he said. On Saturday afternoon, a disappointed Martin sounded somewhat different. He talked to the media shortly after his ride and before heading to the post-race doping control, for which he was one of the selected riders.

When asked whether a longer time-trial would’ve suited him better, Martin agreed. This year though, there was only Saturday’s short time-trial and next week’s team time trial from Vannes to Plumelec for the specialists against the clock. In the past, the Tour de France featured longer time trials, but in recent years they’ve limited the discipline.

“The longer it is, the more I can play out my power," Martin said. "I don’t have to go so early on the limit like I have to do here. Right from the start I have to sprint up to every corner. It’s a distance where I have a good chance but the longer the time-trial is the better I can perform.”

Martin wasn’t giving up on this Tour de France just yet. As in the past one can expect him to feature in a long breakaway move, just like the one that delivered him a splendid solo victory in the stage from Gerardmer to Mulhouse last year.

“The opening stage was my major goal but there are 20 more stages left," he said. "There are still some chances in other stages. We’re here with a super team. My friends and family are here and they’ll surely be comforting me.”

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