HTC-Columbia's Tony Martin lamented missing out a victory on stage one of Paris-Nice on Monday, but said an attack within the final kilometre of the race was a signal that his form is headed in the right direction.
The 24-year-old had not performed as well in the race's prologue as he had hoped, finishing 41seconds behind winner Lars Boom (Rabobank), in 65th place. But in Monday's opening road stage, he was near the front of the peloton when the final split occurred. Caisse d'Epargne leading a charge of 15 riders, including Martin and race leader Boom, that opened an eventual 17 second gap over the peloton.
“In the finale I was able to jump into the lead group,” Martin told Radsport-News.com. “I knew I that I would have to look for my chance shortly before the finish line, since there was a headwind for the last four kilometres.”
With 700 metres to go, Martin took off. But the headwind proved too strong for the young German, and he was caught shortly before the finish line. “The finish line was unfortunately 100 metres too far away,” he said. Martin finished ninth, in the same time as stage victor Greg Henderson (Team Sky).
Despite his near-miss Martin was still satisfied with his result, especially in comparison to his prologue performance. “There is a definite upwards trend as compared to yesterday,” he said.
Martin's ninth place finish on the stage saw him shoot up the overall standings, where he now sits in 24th place, 43 seconds behind race leader, Boom. The Dutchman picked up two one-second time bonuses after finishing third on each of the day's two intermediate sprints.