Tony Martin continued Germany’s stunning sporting month by winning the ninth stage of the Tour de France on Sunday as Frenchman Tony Gallopin claimed the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Martin’s stage success was the fifth by Germans already this Tour after sprinters Marcel Kittel, three, and Andre Greipel had previously triumphed. And it came on a day when Germany will play Argentina in the World Cup final, just five days after their incredible 7-1 semi-final victory over Brazil.
If Joachim Loew’s team are looking for any omens, a German won the day of their semi-final victory when Kittel triumphed in Lille and the last time West Germany won the World Cup in 1990, German Olaf Ludwig won the Tour stage that day as well.
“It’s a good sign,” said Martin, 29, who admitted he wasn’t sure he’d be able to watch the game. But he was feeling confident nonetheless, adding: “Of course I say Germany will win. I was already in good spirits today so let’s say 3-0.”
A group of 20 chasers, including Gallopin, came home 2min 45sec later with the peloton a further five minutes further back. One-day Classics’ specialists Fabian Cancellara and Greg Van Avermaet took second and third respectively on the stage.
Gallopin, whose girlfriend Marion Rousse is also a cyclist and planted a kiss on his lips after he crossed the line, will now wear the yellow jersey on Bastille Day. “It’s incredible. It will be a very proud moment to wear the yellow jersey on the national day. I would never have imagined it,” said the 26-year-old.
Gallopin leads by 1:34 having started the day 11th overall, 3:27 behind previous race leader Vincenzo Nibali, who drops to second. But Monday’s 10th stage includes seven category climbs, amongst which four are first category ones, and an intimidating final 5.9km climb to the finish at an average 8.5 percent gradient.
Gallopin knows it will be tough to keep the jersey.
“I think I’ll really enjoy it tomorrow (Monday). It won’t be an easy day, the guys (going for overall victory) will try to do battle. “I have just 1:30 to Nibali. I will do my best.”
The stage saw significant movement in the leading pack as Portugal’s Tiago Machado moved up from 20th to third overall at 1:40 after finishing in Gallopin’s group. Frenchman Pierre Rolland also jumped 15 places to eighth at 4:07.
But Australian Richie Porte dropped from third to fifth at 3:32 while two-time former winner Alberto Contador is down three places to ninth at 4:08. Martin attacked early on alongside Italian Alessandro De Marchi and the pair worked well together to build up a lead of almost three minutes over a chasing pack of 28 riders, with the peloton gradually drifting out to more than eight minutes behind.
Martin attacked De Marchi on the first category Le Markstein climb 60km from home and rode away from his escape companion. On the long 10.8km climb with a 5.4 percent average gradient, the specialist time-trialler remarkably not only distanced De Marchi but kept increasing his advantage over the chasers as well. By the time he’d crested the final third category climb, there remained 40km of downhill and then flat racing to come, roads much more in keeping with Martin’s capabilities.
— peloton magazine (@pelotonmagazine) July 13, 2014
De Marchi was caught and a chase group of 20 riders formed but just as had been the cased on the climb, their co-operation was minimal. Having realised he was in with a great chance of taking yellow, Gallopin drove on the peloton, with several French riders helping, despite not being in his team.
Behind the peloton the grupetto came home 21:38 behind Martin, just inside the time cut-off point, meaning the likes of Kittel and Greipel will live for another day.
Stage 9 Results
1. Tony Martin (GER/OPQ) 4hr 09min 34sec
2. Fabian Cancellara (SWI/TRE) at 2:45.
3. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) 2:45.
4. Tom Dumoulin (NED/GIA) 2:45.
5. Matteo Montaguti (ITA/ALM) 2:45.
6. José Joaquin Rojas (ESP/MOV) 2:45.
7. Steven Kruijswijk (NED/BKN) 2:45.
8. Mickaël Cherel (FRA/ALM) 2:45.
9. Brice Feillu (FRA/BSE) 2:45.
10. Tiago Machado (POR/APP) 2:45.
11. Alessandro De Marchi (ITA/CAN) 2:45.
12. Daniel Navarro (ESP/COF) 2:45.
13. Rafael Valls (ESP/LAM) 2:45.
14. Cyril Gautier (FRA/EUC) 2:45.
15. Sergio Paulinho (POR/TIN) 2:45.
16. Tony Gallopin (FRA/LTB) 2:45.
17. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EUC) 2:45.
18. Nicolas Edet (FRA/COF) 2:45.
19. Amaël Moinard (FRA/BMC) 2:45.
20. Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 2:51.
Overall Standings after Stage 9
1. Tony Gallopin (FRA/LTB) 38hr 04min 38sec
2. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/AST) at 1:34.
3. Tiago Machado (POR/APP) 2:40.
4. Jakob Diemer Fuglsang (DEN/AST) 3:18.
5. Richie Porte (AUS/SKY) 3:32.
6. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/OPQ) 4:00.
7. Alejandro Valverde (ESP/MOV) 4:01.
8. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EUC) 4:07.
9. Alberto Contador (ESP/TIN) 4:08.
10. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 4:13.
11. Rui Costa (POR/LAM) 4:26.
12. Bauke Mollema (NED/BKN) 4:36.
13. Jurgen Van den Broeck (BEL/LTB) 4:36.
14. Cyril Gautier (FRA/EUC) 4:44.
15. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 5:06.
16. Tejay Van Garderen (USA/BMC) 5:08.
17. Jean Christophe Peraud (FRA/ALM) 5:11.
18. Geraint Thomas (GBR/SKY) 5:28.
19. Andrew Talansky (USA/GRM) 5:56.
20. Yury Trofimov (RUS/KAT) 6:12.