Dan Martin continued to show his fighting spirit on the 189.5km-long fifteenth stage of the Tour de France in the Massif Central, where the Quick-Step Floors rider raced on instinct and attacked on the roads to Le Puy-en-Velay, gapping all the other favourites, reducing the deficit and gaining a place in the overall standings just ahead of the second and final rest day of this year’s Tour de France.
Stage 15, held in the Aubrac region, was another chaotic and action-packed one, especially in the second part, where the GC teams came to the fore and put pressure on the peloton, reducing the numbers significantly on the brutal gradients of the first-category Col de Peyra Taillade.
The climb was a new addition to the Tour de France course, which was unfamiliar to all, as the only other time it featured on the course of a race was at the 1997 Critérium du Dauphiné.
Martin (sixth in the rankings at the start of the day) was attentive and responded to all the moves, before launching an attack of his own with less than ten kilometres to go and forging a gap.
Under the 5 kilometre-to-go banner, the 30-year-old linked up with a couple of riders from the day’s breakaway and dug deep at the front, driving that group home 14 seconds clear of his opponents, including the yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky).
“Everybody was on their limit on the last two climbs, and it’s really no surprise, as this week has been brutal. After the last ascent, I noticed how tired everyone was and how they kept looking at each other, so I said to give it a try,” said Martin at the finish Le Puy-en-Velay, where he climbed one place in the general classification, to fifth, just 1:12 behind Froome.
“Can’t say the plan at the start of the day was to attack, I just seized the opportunity. I am happy with my legs and now I’m looking forward to the rest day. After this, we’ll see what the last week holds and what I can do in the Alps.”