Tour Diary: I had good legs but not those needed to win

I’d hoped to be there for the win but in the end it was close but no cigar, says Dan Martin

The peloton hits the cobbles on stage four of the Tour, a 223km stage between Seraing and Cambrai. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The peloton hits the cobbles on stage four of the Tour, a 223km stage between Seraing and Cambrai. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

 

Monday, stage 3: Anvers to Huy (4th at 5 seconds): Fourth on a stage of the Tour de France; I’d hoped to be there for the win, sprinting it out for victory at the top of the Mur de Huy in Belgium, but in the end it was close but no cigar.

I knew I had good legs going into the stage, but I just didn’t quite have the legs to win. I didn’t agonise over it afterwards. My attitude is that when you do your best you can’t be disappointed. You can’t really have regrets when everything goes well and you just don’t have the legs at the end. When someone better beats you, that is just sport.

The start of the stage was a strange one as everyone was fighting really hard to be at the front. There was nervousness about the day, perhaps because of the splits the day before and also because of the climb at the end.

Personally, I was trying to keep as relaxed as possible and stay out of trouble. Those of you who were watching the race would have seen the big crash that took a load of riders down, including the race leader Fabian Cancellara. In fact there were two crashes, and I just missed both.

In the big crash I was probably about level with the first riders to fall, but fortunately I was on the opposite side of the road. I didn’t come anywhere near to crashing. I just saw it happening. It didn’t look very nice, needless to say, but that is the Tour in the first week. There always seems to be a big crash like this one; in fact it takes something like that to calm everyone down.

Second Captains

The race was neutralised afterwards for a while as there weren’t enough medical staff and ambulances to cover things if there had been another crash.

It led to a bit of debate but I think they made a really good decision. I agree totally with it.

Very steep

It seemed that guys were thinking more about time gaps and the general classification, riding a bit more negatively and not just going for the stage. We came to the last climb and my team-mate Ryder Hesjedal put me close to the front.

I got on Joaquim Rodriguez’s wheel as I knew he was one to watch, but I just didn’t have the power to match him on the steepest part of the climb. He got a gap and held on to win, while I did my usual and sped up once the gradient flattened out a bit and came back at them again. However, as always seems to be the case in Flèche Wallonne, I just ran out of road and had to be happy with fourth. Tuesday, stage 4: Seraing to Cambrai (105th at 5 minutes 37 seconds): This stage was my first time racing on cobbles. It was a great experience even if the end of the stage didn’t go to plan. There were seven sectors of cobbles and the first of those went really well. I was riding in the top 20 and felt comfortable and relaxed at that point.

Unfortunately after that there were a couple of drops of rain. On the one wet corner of the whole course, a rider a few guys in front of me crashed and my front wheel slid out as well.

A couple of my team-mates also went down as well. We were delayed and there was just a big chase on from then. Myself, Sebastian Langeveld, Jack Bauer and Nathan Haas rode a 50 kilometre team time trial to the finish. I think we did pretty well to limit the losses to only five minutes, considering we crashed so far from the line and the pace was really on out front.

It is just disappointing. I have ridden pretty well until now and then to crash in the worst moment possible is annoying. But the important thing is I am okay. I got a very superficial bang on the hip but I am otherwise fine. I live to fight another day at least.

It might be wishful thinking but I am hoping for a bit of a day off on Wednesday. It should be a sprint stage but, because it is expected that it is going to be windy again, there might be plenty of racing to try to create gaps. I’ll aim to stay out of trouble and then see what I can do on Thursday’s stage. It has an uphill sprint to the line and while I’m not sure if it will be long enough for me, I’ll give it a bit of a crack if I can.

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