AFP / Yuzuru Sunada
Germany’s triple world champion Tony Martin won the opening time-trial of the Tour of Switzerland on Saturday to take the leader’s yellow jersey. The Omega-Pharma rider, who won the world time-trial races the past three years, covered the 9.4km course around Bellinzona in a time of 13min 48secs, six seconds ahead of Dutchman Tom Dumoulin with Australian Rohan Dennis of Garmin at 13 seconds.
“I think I had a good strategy because I knew if I went really 100 percent in the flat part, I wouldn’t have enough energy for the mountain,” Martin said. “I had a split time in the first intermediate that was a second down to Rohan Dennis. I knew I had the power at that point, having saved some energy. So I knew I had to go 100 percent, but also be ready for the descent. If you go really full gas to the top you can’t concentrate on the technical parts of the downhill. So I was always focused on the descent, not going over the edge at the top of the climb. I was also able to sprint out of the corners on the descent. I had a really good feeling the whole race, but I think I made the difference on the descent, and my Specialized Shiv gave me the confidence to be aggressive there. It was the hardest, most technical prologue of my career. You cannot underestimate that kind of a parcours even if the distance is shorter. I have three victories now at Tour de Suisse. It’s a race that I like a lot, it’s well organized and I try to do well here in moments that suit me. I will now focus on trying to do well on the Stage 7 individual time trial. I will do my best for a good result there, and we will see what can happen in the mountains.”
Sunday’s 181.8km second stage from Bellinzona to Sarnen should favour the climbers, and Martin admitted: “It (yellow jersey) will be hard to defend (Sunday), because we came here with a team of sprinters.”
Swiss star and four-time world time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara could only finish fourth at 16 seconds.
“I started on a good rhythm but the climb was tough,” admitted Cancellara. “I could have done better on the descent, but the fall last week (in training) is still playing on my mind.”
Britain’s 2012 Tour de France champion and Olympic time-trial gold medallist, Bradley Wiggins, got his campaign off to a modest start by finishing 14th at 32 seconds. Defending two-time champion Rui Costa of Portugal clocked the 28th best time, 42 seconds behind Martin.
Tour de Suisse Stage 1
1. Tony Martin (GER/Omega Pharma) 13:48
2. Tom Dumoulin (NED/Giant-Shimano) @ :06
3. Rohan Dennis (AUS/Garmin) @ :13
4. Fabian Cancellara (SUI/Trek) @ :16
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/AG2R La Mondiale) @ :19
6. Peter Sagan (SVK/Cannondale) @ s.t.
7. Bauke Mollema (NED/Belkin) @ :22
8. Tom Jelte Slagter (NED/Garmin) @ :23
9. Ion Izagirre Insausti (ESP/Movistar) @ :27
10. Mattia Cattaneo (ITA/Lampre) @ :29