Mulhouse, France (4E Sports) – German Tony Martin’s dominating performance propelled him to a convincing victory in Stage 9 of the Tour de France Sunday while Frenchman Tony Gallopin snatched the overall lead from Vincenzo Nibali.
Martin broke ahead early and was uncontested in the last 90 kilometers of the 170-kilometer trip from Gerardmer to Mulhouse en route to a time of four hours, 9 minutes and 34 seconds.
“I never had a lack of power. It was hard to ride solo but I never got out of my comfort zone,” Martin said.
“With three minutes lead, I knew I had the race in my hand. It was an incredible feeling. In time trials, I often have to wait for a long time to know if I had won or not,” he added.
Gallopin, for his part, was among a group of 18 riders who finished 2:45 behind Martin.
“I’ve made it! I was thinking about taking the yellow jersey since the cobbled stage, nevertheless, what I feel is indescribable,” Gallopin said. “When I was a kid, I couldn’t dream of taking the yellow jersey because I was getting dropped at all the races I took part in.”
Nibali, who had worn yellow since winning Stage 2, was 7:46 off Martin’s pace, dropping to second overall, 1:34 behind Gallopin.
After the race, Astana team manager Alexandre Vinokourov said Nibali and his teammates did not fight to keep the yellow jersey on the eve of a crucial 10th stage in the Vosges.
“We saw that Gallopin was in that group but we were not going to kill our team to keep the jersey. The most important thing was to save energy for tomorrow’s stage,” he said.
Team director Giuseppe Martinelli echoed Vinokourov’s statement, saying “it was a good move because we need to keep strength for tomorrow.”
Martinelli called the 10th stage as the toughest in the first part of the Tour. It includes seven climbs, four of which are of the Category 1 variety.