Dan Martin Diary – Day 16: Negative tactics spoil my chance
Other teams were playing games which wouldn’t let me away
I thought that I’d get a bit of leeway in this stage but instead the Sky team of race leader Chris Froome started chasing me down. Photograph: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
I moved from 11th up to 10th overall on stage 16 but things could have been better than that if the bunch had given us some leeway. There was a big group that went away at the start of the stage and we had two Garmin-Sharp riders in there, Ryder Hesjedal and Ramunas Navardauskas. I jumped across at the top of the first climb and made it into the breakaway.
Because I was over eight minutes back in the overall standings I thought that I’d get a bit of leeway but instead the Sky team of race leader Chris Froome started chasing me down. We didn’t really expect that.
Also, the other teams in the break started racing against us rather than trying to hold off Sky. They felt that me being there was affecting their chances of staying away and because of that, all of the other guys in the move stopped riding. They were just sitting there, looking at us.
It was frustrating, needless to say. We were trying to take the race to Sky, and everyone else was riding defensively rather than aggressively.
Part of it also was because some of the riders in the move were the team-mates of the riders who were in front of me in the general classification, and they didn’t want me to gain any time. It is the third week of the Tour, and this kind of thing tends to happen.
I think it is because the stakes are so high. A lot of teams and riders don’t have the same attitude I have . . . they are willing to put everything on the line to defend ninth position, rather than going, riding hard and searching to improve.
There are all sorts of competitions going on at the moment, such as the team classification, the best young rider standings and all that. The tactics are quite negative when you come into the final week. People are also feeling a bit scared about the time trial today and the remaining stages. It means they are less willing to knuckle down than they were earlier in the race.
Anyway, the bunch made the junction about 35 kilometres after the start.
It didn’t work out
Some of the riders pushed forward again in another move, including Ramunas, but Ryder missed out. It was a bit unfortunate – I felt bad as I obviously ruined Ryder’s chance for a stage win. But they were the Garmin-Sharp team tactics at the start of the day, and we rode to the letter of what we had decided on the team bus. It was just unfortunate that it didn’t work.
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful until we hit that last climb, the Col de Manse. There the Katusha team nuked the whole group. It was pretty crazy how it detonated the whole peloton, breaking it into pieces.