Although Dan Martin is still suffering the effects of the stage 9 crash, the Irishman pushed through the pain to steal precious seconds in Foix over his GC rivals at the Tour de France and ensure it was 'mission accomplished.'
Martin and Simon Yates, leading the best young rider classification, jumped away from the yellow jersey group of Fabio Aru (Astana), Chris Froome (Sky), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) to finish 11 seconds clear in Foix.
While the yellow jersey group allowed Mikel Landa (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) back into the GC conversation, Yates and Martin both dropped one place in the overall standings. However, they importantly took time on the likes of Aru et al.
"I was just looking for opportunities on the steep climbs. Because of my back, I can't make any accelerations, I can't really get out the saddle, so I thought 'ride a hard tempo and no one can attack'," Martin told reporters while warming down at the Quick-Step Floors team bus. "I think it kind of worked just until the summit and I think it is mission accomplished today, to be honest.
The steep wall of a finish at Peyragudes appeared on paper a finish better suited to Martin's characteristics but the flat finish in Foix proved better suited to the 30-year-old who explained he is steadily recovering from his back injury.
"Gaining time is a huge bonus. I thought they might hesitate and let me go because I am a little bit further down on GC. A few seconds here, a few seconds there is nice especially with my injuries at the moment," Martin said. "Everyday I am getting better, I'm feeling so much better today than yesterday so I hopefully it continues like that and we'll get there."
At 101km, stage 13 from Saint-Girons to Foix was the shortest stage et of the 21st century and promised fireworks. The stage lived up to expectations as Martin explained the tactics of Team Sky and the decision to isolate Aru, who remains six seconds ahead of Froome, were as expected.
"It was exactly as everyone expected. They are in a very good position, even better now I think," he said of Sky. "I don't know if Fabio kept the jersey or not but obviously, everyone sees Astana as a weaker team and today Fabio was quite isolated so Sky have strength in numbers so of course, they can take advantage of that.
"Today is just a really hard day on the bike. You can't tell, it is so different to yesterday just all out all day and I think everyone is going to be happy that it's over."
Ninth overall at last year's Tour de France, Martin is on track for his best Grand Tour result yet, seventh in the 2014 Vuelta a España, but he isn't overall concerned with numbers at the present.
"From the start, I never set goals. I never set goals in races. I just race my bike and do my best and if I am better than the others, I'll win," he said.