GRENOBLE, France (VN) — Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is back at his best after a serious training crash two months ago. He won the Tour of Belgium last week and on Sunday placed fifth in the Critérium du Dauphiné prologue.
Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) ruled the 5.7km course around Grenoble in 6:38. Bradley Wiggins (Sky) threatened to take the win, but finished just one second short of Durbridge’s pace. Germany’s Martin, though, was only four seconds behind Durbridge and in fifth place at the end of the day. It’s a big step forward considering he was hit by a car and suffered multiple fractures on April 11.
“Already in Frankfurt on the first of May, he was fourth. He was already good and it looked like he didn’t lose too much [of his condition],” Omega Pharma sports director, Brian Holm told VeloNews. “In the Tour of Belgium, especially the time trial, he convinced everybody he was on the right level.”
Martin won the 20km time trial in Belgium on stage 4 and held on to the overall lead to win the race. It was his first race win of the season.
Last year, he capped off his season with a win in the world championship time trial in Copenhagen. During the year, he won the Paris-Nice overall and, just meters away from where Holm stood on Sunday, the final Tour de France time trial.
Despite the crash, Holm said that Martin is on schedule for the Tour de France and the Olympics. His next test is a 53.5km TT on Thursday in the Dauphiné.
“In our world, you have to be optimistic,” said Holm. “You have to think, ‘Good, he didn’t do Romandie and maybe he’ll be fresher for the Tour.’ You always have to think positively, don’t you?
“Our plan is the same for the Tour as it is here. We’d rather him win a time trial than have him come 11th in the Tour. It’s not good to have him come fourth in the time trial because he’s tired. To win, like he did last year here in Grenoble, would be good for us.”
Holm explained that Levi Leipheimer, despite a separate crash involving a car, and Peter Velits will lead Omega Pharma’s classification fight this year. Sylvain Chavanel will try in the escapes. Martin has three chances against the clock: the 6.4km prologue in Liège, Belgium, the 41.5km TT from Arc-et-Senans to Besançon, and the 53.5km TT from Bonneval to Chartres.
Holm added: “We have to chose our battles carefully in the Tour.”