Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider Tony Martin stormed to his maiden Tour de France flat stage win on Sunday as Frenchman Tony Gallopin took over possession of the yellow jersey.
Martin powered away early on in stage nine and never showed signs of slowing down as the German continually pulled away from the peloton, finishing two minutes and 45 seconds clear of Fabian Cancellara in Mulhouse and meaning he will now wear the polka dot jersey heading into stage 10.
“It is always a big difference between the success in a race and in a time trial,” Martin told ITV4.
“You don’t know when you cross the line in a time trial if you have won, but here, with this, where I knew 5km out that even with a puncture or a crash I would still be all right.
“I didn’t want to be involved in the silly game if I was caught by the chasers so I still had some power left in my legs so I decided to go for it. It was an incredible feeling, one of my best days in cycling.”
Gallopin, riding for UCI ProTeam Lotto-Belisol, will be sporting the yellow jersey as the general classification on Bastille Day as he finished well clear of Vincenzo Nibali, who had been in the lead for a week after taking control of top spot in Sheffield.
The Frenchman will start stage 10 one minute and 34 seconds clear of Nibali, whose Astana team-mate Jakob Fuglsang also dropped down the general classification from second to fourth as Tiago Machado moved into third place for Netapp-Endura.
Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford has backed Richie Porte to deliver a third successive Tour de France title to the team but the Australian now sits over three and a half minutes off the lead in fifth place.
Alberto Contador slipped to ninth but will be hoping to make up some time on the difficult mountainous stage 10 from Mulhouse to La Plache des Belles Filles.