Irishman was among the favourites for the stage but found himself boxed in and unable to attack

Ireland’s Dan Martin was left frustrated by his second place finish on the eighth stage of the Tour de France today. The Cannondale-Garmin rider put in a strong attack on the finishing climb at Mûr de Bretagne to finish second behind Frenchman Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r-La Mondiale), but said he would have gone sooner if only he’d had the chance.

“I just couldn’t get out,” Martin said at the finish. “I was on the wrong side of the group. I saw the Ag2r guy go and I knew it was a good move and I just couldn’t get out.

“As soon as I saw him go, it was exactly where I wanted to go,” he added. “I had the legs but I just wasn’t on the right side of the group.”

The large group had bunched against the right-hand barrier on the steep climb. When Martin was finally able to break free as the gradient shallowed in the final kilometre, Vuillermoz had already counterattacked the small splinter group he had formed with Britain’s Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) and Simon Geschke (Alpecin-Giant).

“Initially I was coming back at him pretty fast, but obviously that was my attack,” said Martin. “But then it was like a slow-motion time trial to the line.”

Martin's Cannondale-Garmin team leads the chase as they attempt to set up a win for him on stage eight of the Tour de France

Martin’s Cannondale-Garmin team leads the chase as they attempt to set up a win for him on stage eight of the Tour de France (Watson)

Martin’s Cannondale-Garmin team had ridden strongly at the front of the bunch. They helped chase down the break and set Martin up for the planned attack on the ascent, which reared up from a right hand corner with two kilometres to go.

“We’ve been hiding all week so we knew this stage was for us,” said Martin. “They rode great for me. I’ve never been so relaxed coming into the final. I was fresh as a daisy — I just couldn’t finish it off, so I was kind of disappointed.”

Martin explained that he had studied videos of the climb from the last time the Tour visited Mûr de Bretagne in 2011. The race took a more direct approach to the foot of the climb then, with Cadel Evans winning the stage.

“It’s a weird one. I was in the big chain ring up it,” said Martin. “I watched the video last night and they swooped into it in 2011. I think it was a lot more difficult this year with that turn at the bottom.”

Britain’s Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), riding his first Tour de France, held on to seventh on the stage.

“The first attack [Vuillermoz] did, I followed,” Yates explained. “There was a bit of a lull and people came round. Then he went again and I don’t think anybody could have followed him.”