Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the stage 4 time trial at the Critérium du Dauphiné on Wednesday, as Rohan Dennis (Garmin-Sharp) seized the overall race lead.
Martin, who started the day 82nd of 170 riders, saw his time hold up after everyone else had finished.
“I’m pretty happy now with the stage win,” said Martin, who has been sick with a stomach virus the last few days.
Dennis finished 47 seconds behind Martin to place second in the stage en route to taking the race lead from David Veilleux (Europcar). Chris Froome (Sky) was third, 53 seconds back.
“I knew my form was good,” Dennis told AFP. “It can always be a bit of a gamble against guys like Froome and Contador. I’m surprised to be so close to Martin. This is the best time trial I’ve done to date.”
Froome is now second in the GC, just five seconds behind Dennis in the standings. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma) is 26 ticks back in third.
Martin said his performance bodes well for the Omega Pharma team at the upcoming Tour de France.
“We have two individual time trials and we also have at the beginning the team time trial,” he said. “It’s will be really important for me to fight for the yellow jersey. And we also have the best sprinter with [Mark Cavendish]. I think it will be a nice Tour for us.”
Notably laboring through the course was Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff). Starting the day 1:57 behind previous GC leader Veilleux, Contador seemed to be missing some energy and power on his TT bike.
Richie Porte (Sky) passed him in the final few kilometers en route to Contador’s result of 40:31, 3:37 slower than Martin. He placed 61st on the stage and now sits 34th overall, 2:50 back.
“I think it was obvious for everyone that Alberto was not at his normal high level today,” said Saxo-Tinkoff sports director Philippe Mauduit on the team’s website. “He had a feeling of lack of energy and it seems like he had an off-day at a very unfortunate time and that is significantly crucial on a time trial like this. Now, it looks more than difficult in terms of targeting a top overall result but we’ll continue our preparations for the Tour.”
The race resumes with Thursday’s stage 5, a 139km route from Grésy-sur-Aix to Valmorel.