Dan Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) came close to taking his second ever stage in in the Tour de France yesterday, when he finished second behind Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2R-La Mondiale) on the finishing climb of the Mur de Bretagne.
It was always a stage that was going to suit the Irishman, and he had spoken beforehand of it being one of the stages that he had identified as an opportunity to take the win.
His Cannondale-Garmin went to the front in the last hour of racing to help reel in the early break which had escaped in the opening kilometres. However, their lead never went higher than four minutes. The peloton really strted to reel them in after the intermediate sprint, and with forty kilometres remaining, a new group of three went up the road. That’s when Martin’s team went to the front to keep control and set up the Irishman for the finishing climb.
Eight kilometers from the finish it was over for the breakaway, and the pace lifted as GC contenders and potential stage winners came to the front. Attacks began on the lower slopes of the climb with Vuillermoz amongst those to go on the attack. However, it was Chris Froome who dragged him back.
However, Vuillermoz attacked again and this time got a significant gap. Martin was the only rider to go after him, but due to being boxed in, it allowed Vuillermoz to gain too big a gap. Despite a valiant chase, Martin could not catch the Frenchman and crossed the line five seconds later.
Martin said on the team’s website afterwards, “It was big chainring climb. It’s a hard climb, but it’s a lot harder coming from the other direction. The team was so strong today. Everyone rode great and I would have loved to pay them back with the win. Now we look ahead.”
“I knew that it was a good moment when Vuillermoz went. That’s where I had planned to go as well. I really had the legs today, but I couldn’t get out.”
“I was waiting, waiting, waiting for the group to move left, so I could make my move,” Martin added. “I was stuck on the right with the wind coming from the left. As soon as they moved left, I went. When you have the legs but lack the position to get out, it’s a bit of a disappointment. The team rode so well today. I’m so thankful to them.”