There was little that Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) could do but watch Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R-La Mondiale) sail away to the stage 8 victory on the Mûr-de-Bretagne at the Tour de France on Saturday. Martin discussed the finish with his directeur sportif Charly Wegelius, and said that he felt like he was dancing up the climb but that he had found himself trapped among the GC contenders.
He was obviously still upset and frustrated when he made it to the team bus at the bottom of the climb, animatedly describing to Wegelius how he’d tried to move riders out of the way to no avail. After some reassurance from his DS, and a little time warming down, a smile had returned to his face but the frustration remained. “We came around the corner at the bottom and I was on the right hand side and got pinned on the barriers,” Martin told Cyclingnews.
“The whole way up I was waiting for them to move over left so I could attack and it just never happened. I’m disappointed because I definitely had the legs to win today and the team did a really good job. We’ve kind of hidden away this week and kept our powder a bit dry but I think that we really showed that we’re in the race today. They had the real belief that I could win and I almost did it. I’m kind of gutted to get second.”
Vuillermoz made two attacks on the final climb, his second coming with 800 metres to go. After being hemmed in for most of the ascent, Martin found himself seven riders back in the strung out line. With Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) almost directly in front of him, the Cannondale rider had nowhere to go. It wasn’t until 500 metres to go that the pack moved left and Martin was able to dart up the left, but it was too late.
“Initially I was closing on him but he just had too much of a gap,” explained Martin. “As soon as I saw him go I knew that he had won. It was a case of if they didn’t chase him down then he was gone because that’s exactly what I wanted to do. It was a case of the GC guys looking at each other.”
Martin’s fellow team leader Andrew Talansky lost time in the battle for the general classification, finishing with Vincenzo Nibali 20 seconds back on the winner and 10 behind the main group. At almost eight minutes back in the overall standings, after losing out in the crosswinds and on the cobbles earlier in the week, Martin doesn’t see himself as a serious contender.
“It’s going to be really hard to get any of that time back,” Martin said. “I think the whole GC thing is overrated, I just really want to win a stage of this race to be honest and if the GC happens after that with me trying to race my bike hard it happens but I don’t really want to pigeonhole myself. Andrew’s pretty well placed on the GC but for me it’s definitely the aim to try and win a stage.”