Despite a finish that did not suit his riding characteristics Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad) declared himself happy after stage 4 of the Tour de France from Lorient to Mûr de Bretagne.
The German powerhouse finished 8 seconds behind stage winner Cadel Evans (BMC) and several key GC rivals, but came over the line in a group containing Andy Schleck (Leopard Trek), Chris Horner (RadioShack) and Robert Gesink (Rabobank). After four days of racing he sits 13 seconds off the yellow jersey but in the running for a possible top ten placing in Paris.
"I was feeling good but it wasn't the type of final that suited me because it was short and really steep. I finished with a good time, though, so I'm happy to be in with the likes of Andy Schleck," the winner of Paris-Nice told Cyclingnews at the finish.
"I prefer the longer climbs where I can ride at my tempo. I think that my form is good so I'll just wait for the harder climbs in the mountains."
HTC-Highroad's director Rolf Aldag echoed his compatriot's words at the finish but pointed out that Martin must keep to his own rhythm and not react to the accelerations of some of the climbers if he is to challenge for the top ten.
Aldag's career as a professional rider spanned two decades and he likened Martin's strategy to the five time Tour winner Miguel Indurain, a rider he crossed swords with on many occasions during the 1990s when the German rode as a domestique.
"He has to stay with the guys for as long as he can. He's not very explosive so there was no pressure on him to go for yellow today. It would have been better if there hadn't been a break at the finish but we can certainly live with the outcome from the stage," Aldag told Cyclingnews.
"He's got to ride in the same style of Miguel Indurain and keep his rhythm and style in the mountains and then use his time trialling. There's no way we're going to see him attacking and accelerating, he's not that kind of rider."
Martin's next test will come on stage 8, which finishes on the climb to Super-Besse Sancy.
"It's the next time he'll have to use that strategy and we'll see how he does. It's day by day for him and the team," Aldag said.
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