LUZ ARDIDEN, France (AFP) – German Tony Martin refused to blame flu as his hopes of remaining in contention for a top overall place at the Tour de France were severely compromised on Thursday.
Martin has spent the first 11 stages of the July 2-24 race working tirelessly to help HTC-Highroad teammate Mark Cavendish’s bid for more stage wins and the race’s green jersey for the points competition.
While Cavendish has added three victories so far to take his career tally to 18, Martin’s own ambitions were crushed as the Tour went into the Pyrenees for the first of three consecutive stages.
The German all-rounder was one of several casualties of the pace being set by compatriot Jens Voigt, of Leopard-Trek as he attempted to eliminate rivals of his team leaders Andy and Frank Schleck.
Martin eventually finished 48th at 9 minutes, 3 seconds behind stage winner Samuel Sanchez to drop to 26th overall at 10:51.
Despite suffering, the German admitted: “I’ve got a little flu but that is no excuse, it doesn’t explain why I lost so much time.
“Physically and mentally I wasn’t in good shape. It’s really disappointing for me.
“Now I need to take stock and see what I can do in the race.”