Dan Martin keeps close eye on Tour de France rivals

Dan Martin remains third overall at the Tour de France after yesterday’s ceasefire on stage 10 of the race saw the main general classification contenders have an easier day than what preceded Monday’s rest day.

The Etixx-QuickStep man is still just 19 seconds off the race lead held by two-time champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) with fellow Briton Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) second at 16 seconds.

Yates’s teammate Michael Mathews claimed yesterday’s stage win into Revel after he emerged strongest from a six-man group who sprinted for the win.

The Australian edged world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) with Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) rounding out the podium.

Martin was 29th across the line, some 9.29 minutes back in the main group, though those up the road were no threat to the yellow jersey and were given plenty of slack on a mucky day in the south-west of the country.

The Irishman questioned the tactics of those most likely to challenge for the overall title on Sunday week, with neither Froome nor his apparent main rival Nairo Quintana (Movistar) escaping Martin’s interrogation.

“I don’t know when Nairo will make a move. He hasn’t made a move in a few days now,” said the former Liége-Bastogne-Liége and Giro Il Lombardia winner.

“Maybe I got carried away [last Sunday], just attacking so much, but I just enjoyed racing.

“I was looking at making time on the guys who were dropped. I knew if we didn’t ride that Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) had the same kind of idea, but Nairo and Chris were kind of playing cat and mouse.

“Then they chase us down [when we attack] and look at each other. It’s pretty strange tactics,” Martin continued, rather tongue-in-cheek.

Today’s stage takes the riders on a flat 162-kilometre run from Carcassone to Montpellier and, though there are two category-four climbs in the first half of the race, a bunch sprint is the most likely outcome. Martin will hope to keep himself out of the wind all day and use as little energy as possible in advance of tomorrow’s showdown on Mont Ventoux, where a cracking battle is in store.

For the other Irish rider in the race, Sam Bennett, it was another tough afternoon, though he did ‘only’ lose 10:38 after finishing 182nd. He is now last man in 192nd.

Elsewhere, 23-year-old Italian Davide Martinelli (Etixx-QuickStep) won the opening stage of the Tour of Poland yesterday, with the Irish trio of Matt Brammeier (Dimension Data), Nicolas Roche (Team Sky) and Stephen Clancy (Novo Nordisk) all finishing in the main group nine seconds back.

Meanwhile, the Junior Tour of Ireland resumes today and the second stage of the race takes the riders on a 117-kilometre loop of east Clare, starting at noon from Ennis and heading towards Newmarket-on-Fergus, Sixmilebridge, Killaloe, Tuamgraney and Killanena, before finishing in Barefield around 3pm.

Matteo Jorgenson won last night’s opening stage of the Junior Tour of Ireland and he will wear the first yellow jersey of this year’s race into today’s second stage.

Spain’s Alberto Contador has been ruled out of the Olympics after three leg fractures were diagnosed following his withdrawal from the Tour de France.

Two-time Tour winner Contador abandoned the race on Sunday’s ninth stage, having twice crashed in the opening two stages, before struggling with illness.

Scans showed three fractures “which prevented him from pedalling normally” during the Tour, his spokesman said yesterday.

Medics have told Contador to rest completely for two weeks and he will not take part in the Rio 2016 Olympics, where the road race takes place on August 6.

The Tinkoff rider may, however, contest the Vuelta a Espana.

Contador said: “I could have done a good race [at the Olympics], but things are as they come.”


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