SAN DIEGO, July 26, 2014 – German powerhouse time trial champion Tony Martin did exactly what was expected of him Saturday, winning the long time trial on Stage 20 of the 2014 Tour de France.
Martin’s accomplishment still impressed despite the lack of surprise about the result. Martin is one of the best time trial riders ever. He has what cyclists call “a big engine,” drives a huge front gear and knows exactly what it takes to win.
“I was under pressure. Everyone expected me to win. But honestly, it’s a bit like that before all the time trials. I’ve learned how to deal with this kind of pressure…
The day’s drama was the competition to get on the podium behind Tour leader Vincenzo Nibali of Astana. For the first time since 1997, French riders had a chance to take second and third.
It was Jean-Christophe Peraud of AG2R who found what he needed to ride a great time trial, overtaking Thibaut Pinot for second place in the overall standings. Peraud managed to survive a stop to change a flat tire, finishing seventh. Pinot is not a strong time trial rider, but finished 12th which kept him on the podium in third place overall, just 32 seconds behind Peraud after three weeks of racing.
After his good performance, Peraud said, “It’s an enormous satisfaction. The withdrawals of (Chris) Froome and (Alberto) Contador opened a range of possibilities and I started dreaming about this second place. I’m happy to have achieved that goal. I have a feeling of mission accomplished and a lot of joy today.”
It wasn’t a good day for the third of the French rivals, Romain Bardet. He also suffered a flat tire on the road nearly in sight of the finish line and had a slow bike change that cost him a place in the standings. He lost quite a bit of time and ends up in sixth place.
Spaniard Alejandro Valverde, who had slipped behind the French riders after sitting in second place during the first half of the Tour, could not gain any time on the French riders. He remained in fourth place.
American Tejay Van Garderen is a good time trial rider, but it would have taken some help for him to move up into a podium spot and he didn’t get any. He still rode well enough to rise from sixth to fifth place overall. It is a good result considering that Van Garderen survived five serious crashes in the first week of the Tour. Van Garderen is only 25, and his experience comes at a perfect point of his career. He needs to let this toughen him up for his many Tour opportunities in the years to come.
Vicenzo Nibali could have coasted through the time trial, but he wanted to put on a show as the Tour winner, and he placed fourth overall and best among the top six overall contenders in the Tour, an impressive result.
“I wanted to do well in this time trial,” said Nibali. “It wasn’t an easy course. It was a perfect one for specialists like Tony Martin. I was looking forward to reach the finish. It required a big effort to ride the course. I’m pleased to have set the fourth best time.
“I haven’t realized yet how big it is to win the Tour de France. I’ll keep that for tomorrow. It’s difficult to ride the Tour but the beauty of it is to cycle on the Champs-Elysées. That’s the biggest memory I’ve kept from my first participation: the lap of honor, the enormous number of people, Paris’ monuments… I’ll try to savor my victory as much as I can. Every moment will count.”
The traditional finale on Stage 21 comes into the City of Lights and is essentially a coronation celebrating the achievement of the winner. But Vicenzo Nibali does have to cross the finish line. As riders did last year, they will cycle all the way around the Arc de Triomphe.
So put the Champagne on ice, and celebrate the victories large and small along the 2,232 mile route. It’s been an exciting month of competition provided by some of the world’s most well conditioned athletes, through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Vive le Tour!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Follow the Tour de France daily in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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