Dan Martin Diary – Stage 11: Still paying for Sunday’s effort as time trial proves tough

The heavyweights take full advantage when the land is flat

Omega Pharma-Quick Step team rider Tony Martin of Germany cycles past the Mont Saint-Michel during the 32 km individual time trial 11th stage of the Tour de France yesterday. Photograph: Reuters

Omega Pharma-Quick Step team rider Tony Martin of Germany cycles past the Mont Saint-Michel during the 32 km individual time trial 11th stage of the Tour de France yesterday. Photograph: Reuters


Well, as I had thought beforehand, the time trial turned out to be a tough day. The result is not great, finishing 62nd and over three minutes behind the winner Tony Martin, but I was pretty tired. I didn’t feel bad, I just didn’t have the power to push the gear. Maybe I am still paying the efforts I put in on Sunday when I won the stage.

I did my best possible effort and have to be content with that. The bigger guys always have an advantage on a course such as the one the time trial was held on; I am 63 kilos, so I am a lot lighter than Tony and many of those who were in front of me. It’s a pure physics lesson; when you go uphill, having lower body weight is an advantage. But on the flat, every rider has to put out nearly the same amount of power to go at a certain speed speed.

Yesterday’s time trial was actually quite fun early on, if you can call it that. In the first 15 kilometres, there were some big rollers and you could carry really high speed into quite steep climbs. That was quite a cool part of the course for me. However perhaps I started out a little bit too hard and then I paid for that on the false flat section after the first checkpoint.

The last 15 kilometres were definitely a lot flatter and there was a lot of wind. It was mainly tail-crosswind until the very end, when there were headwinds. It wasn’t great for my characteristics. Obviously the faster speeds benefit the heavier guys like Tony Martin.

I did pretty much the same time as Nairo Quintana of the Movistar team, the Colombian who was the best young rider in the race until the time trial, and Joaquim Rodriguez, last year’s world number one. They are similar-type guys to me, in terms of characteristics. I would have liked to have been a little bit closer to Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde, but the legs just weren’t there. Both of those were a little over a minute faster.

The only general classification contender to make it into the top 10 was the race leader Chris Froome. He was very fast early on, going quicker than the intermediate times set by Tony Martin, but slipped back towards the end to finish twelve seconds behind in second place.

Much faster
He was much faster than the other guys racing for the yellow jersey, though, and is now three minutes 25 seconds ahead of his closest rival Valverde. Some people were surprised at the performance but in in the 2011 Vuelta a España, he did a fantastic time trial there to finish second behind Tony Martin. Chris has got a huge engine and he has been working a lot on his time trial position. He has a really fast bike too.

For him, it was a case that he just put everything together perfectly on the day. In addition to that, I think after eleven days of racing that freshness definitely played a part in this time trial. Perhaps he is just feeling a little bit fresher at this point of the race than the other contenders.

To sum up: it was a fantastic performance from him, and is definitely a kick in the balls for the rest of the general classification guys.

So, I’m now 13th overall. I have to reiterate I am taking this race day by day. Obviously the general classification is in the back of my mind, but I am not obsessed about it. We are still there or thereabouts, and we’ll see how it goes.

Things are still pretty tight behind Chris Froome; after 11 days of racing, I am two minutes 20 off second place, and that is far and away above what I expected coming into the race. One good day in the mountains can change a lot, and so I’ll just continue in same the way we have been going.

Next up are a couple of very flat stages. I’m hoping that the wind won’t be as bad as it was on Tuesday. With a bit of luck the stage will be somewhat relaxing and I can start to recover and think about next week. It looks like stage 12 is one for the sprinters. It’s flat and there are no categorised climbs. I know there is a bit of a technical finish tomorrow, with two corners in the last kilometre, and so it is going to be important to be in the front.

The goal is to keep close to the front riders to make sure I am not caught behind any splits in the bunch and lose time, but also to steer clear of any crashes. It is a bit of a problematic finale to the stage in Tours, but we will do our best. Avoiding crashes and time loss are the two big goals.

Finally, a word about the crowds. They were really impressive again yesterday, with loads and loads of spectators along the roads of the time trial. The tricolours are great, and I understand there will be a lot of Irish supporters on corner ten of Alpe d’Huez next week. That is going to be really good, it should be a bit of fun.