A puncture just short of the base of the final climb of the Côte de la Croix Neuve cost Dan Martin the bones of two minutes on his general classification rivals during stage 14 of the Tour de France in Mende, but the Irishman has never been one to rail against the uncontrollable vagaries of his sport.
There were no histrionics as he waited for a replacement wheel on the outskirts of Mende, nor was there any tension around the UAE-Team Emirates bus at the finish as Martin warmed down on the rollers afterwards. In his 11th year as a professional and in his 6th Tour appearance, he has been in the game long enough to absorb such disappointments quickly.
“You have to, don’t you?” Martin told Cyclingnews. “It was 1k before the bottom of the climb, that’s the way it is. I had really good legs, I did a really good time. My power was good, I sat on a really high power. I actually felt really good. But at that moment, when you’re standing still and the race is going on in front at 65kph, then you lose a lot of time. It is what it is, isn’t it?”
Martin placed 50th on the transitional stage, 19:52 behind winner Omar Fraile (Astana), who was part of the sizeable early break, though the more relevant time gap was to the splintered group of general classification contenders. He lost 1:51 to Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), and 1:43 to yellow jersey Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).
In the overall standings, Martin had been leapfrogged by Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), and he now lies 10th overall, 6:54 behind Thomas and over five minutes off a podium place. An aggressive presence throughout the Tour, Martin scored a fine stage victory at Mûr-de-Bretagne on stage 6, but he has endured his share of ordeals in the intervening period. He suffered a crash on the road to Amiens two days after that stage win, and then lost ground at Alpe d’Huez on Thursday.
“Other than the stage win, this Tour’s been a bit of a disaster so far. But I’m still here, I’m still in one piece and I’m still fighting. So we’ll be back for the Pyrenees,” said Martin, who could draw some consolation from the quality of his performance on the Montée Laurent Jalabert despite the circumstances.
Now almost seven minutes off the maillot jaune, Martin’s current situation might earn him a greater deal of leeway to go on the offensive in the third week, though as the days tick closer to Paris, even position in the top 10 overall becomes a lofty prize unto itself.
“The form’s good,” Martin said. “So hopefully we’ll get through tomorrow and then see what we can do in the last week.”