Martin fifth on final mountain stage of Tour de France as Pogacar wins again

Yellow jersey holder all set for back-to-back successes in Paris

Dan Martin put in his best showing of this year's Tour de France, riding strongly on the final mountain stage and placing fifth at Luz Ardiden.

The Irishman has been under par at the race due to fatigue from riding the Giro d’Italia in May, where he won a stage and finished 10th overall. However, he showed signs he is getting over that fatigue on Thursday’s mountaintop finish.

Martin was part of the leading group on the final climb, sitting at the back of the group as the kilometres ticked by.

“I’m glad that I got to show the real me on the final day in the mountains,” he said at the finish. “I wasn’t really sure how my legs would be after not feeling great the last couple of days, so I decided just to sit back and get as much draft as possible as the final climb was really fast.


“That way I could also see how the other guys were doing, if they were fading or looking good or not. Every time somebody would let the wheel go a little bit, I just jumped over them. I was actually a bit a surprised of how it went and as we got closer to the finish, I started to think that maybe I could go for the stage.”

Martin and several others were initially gapped when the pace ramped up with three kilometres left, but he attacked and dropped this group about a kilometre later.

He chased the four leaders and got close to them, but was unable to bridge across before race leader Tadej Pogacar launched his winning move. Martin came in fifth, 24 seconds back. His previous best result in this year's Tour was when he placed eighth on stage 15.

“Without the hard tempo from Sepp Kuss maybe I would have had a chance to come back [to the leaders],” he said. “Regardless, it was really nice to feel like myself again on the climbs today and show my true colours for one of the first times in this race.”

Pogacar took the stage victory in yellow for a second day running to underline his dominance in this year’s race.

The Slovenian won from Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz, the same as stage 17, in a replication of their overall positions in the race.

With an advantage of five minutes and 45 seconds from Vingegaard and only one flat stage and a time-trial to negotiate before Paris, Pogacar – still only 22 – looks all-but certain to defend his overall title.

Martin has won two Tour de France stages in the past and while the three remaining stages don’t give him an opportunity to add to that, his improving form will give him encouragement in advance of the Olympic Games road race on July 24th.