Martin reaches out to victory

At the 2010 Tour de France prologue in Rotterdam, HTC-Columbia's Tony Martin again confirmed that he is one of the most talented young riders in the peloton by coming second to Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank). It's the second runner-up placing for the German at the French Grand Tour, and one that has put him back in touch with the best young rider jersey that he wore last year.

However, after waiting in the hot seat of the fastest rider for three hours, Martin had to eventually give way to Cancellara, missing out on his first Tour de France victory again, having been beaten by Juan Manuel Garate on Mont Ventoux last year.

"In the first minutes, I was very disappointed, as I had realistic hope of getting the yellow jersey," Martin told Cyclingnews after the podium ceremony. "But then, I expected Fabian to show off a great performance here again today; in the end I'm happy about my second place. I can only reiterate: I'm still very young, I can ride here a few more years, so at one point I hope things will go my way for a victory."

Martin raced the prologue as one of the first riders, after it had just stopped raining and the roads weren't too wet. Later, the rain increased, but when Cancellara set out, conditions were about the same as they were for the German. "The road was a bit wet, not completely," he said. "I think we had the same conditions, so he won it fair and square."

While on the hot seat, the German time trial champion expected something special from Cancellara, so when the Swiss took out the Tour opener it came as no surprise. "There was the possibility, or even more a probability, that he was going to ride faster than me. You have to say that he is the best prologue rider in the world, and in that respect, I can accept my defeat," he acknowledged with true sportsmanship.

Had it not been for slightly slippery roads, the 25-year-old trained policeman would have maybe improved his time a little, but not enough to overcome Cancellara. "I did ride a little bit cautious, which may have made me lose one or two seconds in the curves. But I'm not so much a prologue rider than a time trialist. My true goal is the 50km race against the clock at the end of the Tour," he revealed.

Witnessing the landslide win of the German team against Argentina in the World Cup from the hot seat, Martin was able to get some consolation for his lost victory first by his girlfriend, who stuck to his side while he was waiting, and then when he was awarded the white jersey. "It's a great jersey to have, which I experienced already last year. It's a precious feeling. I'm back on the podium of the Tour de France - it's great for me, it's great for my team. I'm very satisfied."

Saturday's performance also leaves the German with the possibility of conquering the yellow jersey at the end of the first week, when the Tour will encounter its first mountain stage in the Alps. "If I can get over those Belgian and Northern French stages without crashing, I could maybe wear yellow in a week," he said. "Now, my first priority is not to crash and finish in the hospital during the next stages. Tomorrow will be really dangerous."

Another objectove for Martin will be the support of his team and its sprinter, Mark Cavendish, who now stands good chances of winning the first stage for HTC-Columbia this year. "I hope we can be in front again tomorrow and show that we are one of the strongest teams. I believe we can also prepare a really good finale for Mark, for him to show that he is the fastest man here," Martin concluded.

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