Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) produced another superb tactical ride on the hilly stage to Quillan at the Tour de France, joining the break of the day, finishing 5:25 ahead of the peloton and so jumped up to second overall behind race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
The 28-year-old French rider has ridden an aggressive race in search of a stage victories but had also suffered on other mountain stages. This time his bravery paid off and he is now 4:04 down on Pogačar. Importantly he is 1:14 ahead of Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo), 1:28 ahead of Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and 1:29 ahead of Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers).
They and their teams will no doubt try to crack and distance Martin on the long, high climbs in the Pyrenees but he promised to put up a fight.
“I used a lot of energy to be honest. I finished pretty empty. I felt the heat a lot, there’s a lot of salt on my jersey. I’ll try to recover. I think I’ll lose a bit of time tomorrow but hopefully not too much and we’ll see what I can target, “ Martin said, the pain in his legs initially stronger than his satisfaction about moving up to second overall.
He had studied the hilly stage but admitted he was not having a good day and so had little chance of winning the stage.
“When I attacked on the Col de Montségur, I knew exactly where to go and what was coming after. I knew it was an up and down route that would be good for a breakaway,” he explained about his move on the second of five categorised climbs.
“I knew from the beginning that it would be hard to target the stage win because it was a flat finish and it’s always really tactical. And to be honest I didn’t have super good legs, so I didn’t have any illusions, I just wanted to race to the finish line as quick as possible.”
Now Martin will try to hold onto his hard earned gains. "Hopefully I can recover for tomorrow. When a selection like that gets to the line, it’s hard to win, but today was still a good day. It was in keeping with the aggressive approach we’ve had to this race," he said.
“It’s the Tour, and it’s normally ridden on the defensive, but this year, I really wanted to race on the offensive like I wanted. Today it went well. I hope I don’t pay for it tomorrow, but I’m happy with how it went.”
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