World time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) could only manage 11th place in Wednesday’s stage 11 time trial at the Vuelta a España but the German is confident that he is still on track to defend his rainbow jersey in Valkenburg next month.
Martin was among the early starters on the technical course from Cambados to Pontevedra but after a solid if unspectacular opening, he struggled on the climb of the Alto Monte Castrove and finished the stage 1:39 down on winner Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana).
“Even though I didn’t get the placing I had hoped for in the time trial, I am quite satisfied,” Martin said on his personal website. “As I feared beforehand, the climb made me grit my teeth. I have to admit that I still have some improvement to make uphill. You can’t afford weakness on a climb against guys like Contador, Rodriguez and Froome, who are much lighter than me.”
Martin is the reigning world champion in the time trial after winning the title in Copenhagen last year. The two men who stood alongside him on the podium in Denmark will not compete this year – Bradley Wiggins (Sky) will ride the road race only, while Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) has already ended his season. Martin took silver in the time trial at the London 2012 Olympics behind Wiggins.
“I’m still on course for the Worlds,” Martin said. “My feelings during the time trial were good. Even during the technical start I did well, so there’s no need to worry.”
Martin currently lies 85th overall at the Vuelta.