German powerhouse Tony Martin stormed to his maiden road stage victory at the Tour de France yesterday — and his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team’s second win in three days.
But the big winner over the weekend was Frenchman Tony Gallopin who took possession of the race leader’s yellow jersey when he successfully infiltrated a 28-man chase group that broke clear of the main peloton and went in pursuit of the indomitable Martin, who had been away from as early as the 15th kilometre along with breakaway companion Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale).
Martin powered away from De Marchi on the punishing climbs and had a whopping two minutes and 45 seconds to spare over the next-placed rider over the line, Fabian Cancellara.
Gallopin, riding for UCI ProTeam Lotto-Belisol, will be sporting the yellow jersey as the general classification leader on Bastille Day today and he will start stage 10 one minute and 34 seconds clear of Nibali, whose Astana team-mate Jakob Fuglsang also dropped from second to fourth overall as Tiago Machado moved into third place for the Netapp-Endura team.
Meanwhile, Team Sky manager Dave Brailsford has backed Richie Porte to deliver a third successive Tour de France title to the team, even as the Australian now sits over three-and-a-half minutes off the lead in fifth place.
Alberto Contador slipped to ninth but will be hoping to make up some time on the difficult mountainous stage 10 from Mulhouse to La Plache des Belles Filles this afternoon.
Ireland’s Nicolas Roche finished over nine minutes behind Martin and is now 38th overall, 19 minutes and 50 seconds down on Gallopin.
Meanwhile, Dan Martin completed his first stage race since breaking his collar bone at the Giro d’Italia in May.
The Garmin-SHARP man was 15th overall in the eight-day Tour of Austria, some seven minutes behind overall winner Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky).
Martin made his way into yesterday’s breakaway of five riders in the 122km stage that finished in the capital, Vienna.
However, that escape was sucked back in during the closing stages of the race and Martin crossed the line in 82nd position, in the same time as stage winner Marco Haller of Team Katusha.
Elsewhere, Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar put in a very gallant effort in the junior road race at the European Championships in Nyon, Switzerland on Saturday but failed to get the major result many felt he was capable of.
The Kanturk man finished in the front group of around 60 riders after the main peloton split in two in the closing laps.
On the second last lap of nine, a break of four clipped off the front and though they only managed to pull out a gap of around half a minute they stayed away to contest the finish.
The gold medal went to Italian rider Affini Edoardo while Jordi Warlop (Belgium) took silver and Idjouadiene Pierre (France) took bronze.
In the U23 road race yesterday, Jack Wilson (An Post Chain Reaction) was best of the Irish in 17th place in the same time as race winner Stefan Kueng (Switzerland).
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