Dan Martin’s Tour Diary, Day 13: Wrong for teams to profit from rivals’ misfortune

A day like this in the wind shows that anything can happen

 Team Saxo-Tinkoff drives the pace at the head of the group during stage 13 of the  Tour de France. Their teamwork was impressive in the day’s final break. Photograph:  Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Team Saxo-Tinkoff drives the pace at the head of the group during stage 13 of the Tour de France. Their teamwork was impressive in the day’s final break. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images


What a day. That must have looked entertaining on the television.

Stage 13 was supposed to be a stage where nothing much happened, but there were crosswinds all day which broke things up. We expected a bit of action but it came very early in the stage and caught people by surprise.

Initially it was only the sprinter Marcel Kittel who was the big name who was caught out, but then Alejandro Valverde broke his wheel in the feed zone and was delayed.

He had started the day second overall and the Belkin team - who had Bauke Mollema in third and Laurens Ten Dam in sixth – decided to put their full team at the front to take advantage of that misfortune.

I’m not really happy with that – I don’t agree with attacking when your rivals encounter bad luck. If Valverde and his team couldn’t get back up to the group with just the Omega Pharma Quick Step team riding on the front, fair enough, but the Belkin team joining in really did put him and his team-mate Rui Costa out of the reckoning.

It shows what can happen at the Tour de France. That is partly why I am not saying at this point that I am going to ride for the general classification. Anything can happen.

Some people were saying afterwards that Movistar had taken advantage of the bad luck of others in the past. I don’t know about that. I would hope it doesn’t stay that long in the minds of people. But we are lucky to be in a team that enjoys quite good karma. We have a lot of friends in the peloton.

My Garmin-Sharp team-mates Jack Bauer and Ramunas Navardauskas were unbelievable on the stage. They rode in the wind for me the whole time. It made my day easy. I felt really fresh at the finish, really good.

I also feel that my legs are coming around again after the efforts I made to take the stage win last Sunday.

In some ways it was unfortunate that I was a little bit back from the front when the Saxo Tinkoff team put the hammer down inside the final 35 kilometres and caused the second split.

My cousin Nicolas Roche was one of those involved – it’s a pity he didn’t tip me off!

However, it would have been really hard up there – those guys out front had a really hard ride to the finish.

On the one hand you can say that they gained over a minute.

On the other, they dug deep to get that, and it is an effort that I didn’t have to make. I didn’t lose much time to them, and hopefully that will pay off on Sunday’s mountain stage to the top of Mont Ventoux.

The Tour de France is a real balancing act. You use energy only when you need to, as wasting it can mount up and cause problems.

But equally, you don’t want to focus on saving energy and lose time while doing so.

The trick is knowing when to use it. You can’t be afraid to dig in and make efforts, especially if that means you gain a bit of time.

After all, you never know where you will get the chance again.

But it is important to choose the moments wisely, always keeping that balancing act in mind.

Good position
Overall, I think I am in a good position after what happened on the stage. I went from 13th to 11th overall, and remain the same amount of time behind Chris Froome that I was beforehand, five minutes and 52 seconds back.

That said, Mollema and Contador gained some time so I am a bit further off the podium than before.

However that time can be made up in the final week of the race – it is going to be really epic, and could cause a lot of changes.

Apart from those two riders, another who was very happy with yesterday was Mark Cavendish. He was beaten the day before by Marcel Kittel and was very, very determined to take the stage win.

His team worked so hard all day that he really had to grab the victory; it was an incredible team effort and they blew the race to pieces. He really merited that win.

It has been great to see the really even sprinting fights this year. Andre Greipel and Kittel are now equal in speed to Cavendish. There are going to be some great battles between them this year and beyond.

Next up is a lumpy stage to Lyon. I think it could be a really hard day, with plenty of riders trying to get into the break.

This is going to ensure plenty of attacks and the pace will be high.

After that, on Sunday, we hit the Ventoux and it will be a really important day for me.