Irish rider loses 51 seconds in crosswinds on stage 16
When the race split in the crosswinds between Le Puy-en-Velay and Romans-sur-Isère, Martin found himself in the second group and with Team Sky, Team Sunweb and Ag2r La Mondiale pushing the pace in the front group he was unable to catch back on.
“The yellow jersey is probably over but we’re still fighting,” he told a gaggle of reporters as he warmed down by his Quick-Step Floors team bus.
“I haven’t been bad before but it’s a bit different doing across wind stage in the last week than the first week. That was shame to lose time.
“I was in the red and then the downhill was so dangerous. That’s partly what led to me I losing position because just as it split on the downhill there were a couple of very very near crashes with guys getting swept in the wind into the left of the group I had to slam the brakes on a couple of times and that’s why I lost the ten positions that were vital when the bunch split.”
Quick-Step Floors were down two men after Philippe Gilbert didn’t start the stage as he was suffering from gastroenteritis and Matteo Trentin failed to make the time cut on stage nine.
However, the team also used up much of its limited fire power trying to get its sprinter, green jersey wearer Marcel Kittel, back into the front group after he and others were distanced from the peloton early in the stage.
Watch: Tour de France stage 16 highlights
When asked if the team had put its efforts in the wrong place today, sports director Brian Holm said: “That would make sense. Gilbert is out, Matteo [Trentin] is out, we are short of numbers. When you’re two riders less it makes it slightly more difficult. Marcel couldn’t follow on the climb, he was dropped, but we looked after Dan. I don’t know if it was the crash or not [to blame for his time losses].”
However Martin said that he didn’t feel the team was struggling to balance its sprinting and GC ambitions.
Holm added: “We’re usually quite alright in the crosswinds but three riders it’s not really the same as with nine in the crosswinds so we knew it would be quite difficult.”
Despite slipping to seventh place on GC 2-03 behind race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) Martin will continue to aim for a podium place.
“We’ll see if I have a bit more freedom, I said anything can happen it has now so we’ll regroup and see what happens,” Martin continued. “I’m not going to race any differently.”
Kittel, meanwhile, saw his lead in the green jersey competition cut as Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), who is currently in second place, won both the intermediate and final sprints netting himself a maximum 50 points.
He is now 29 points behind Kittel with 50 points on offer for winning each of the two remaining sprint stages, and 20 for the intermediate sprints.
Kittel said: “I can’t say I’m happy about losing all the points today, but there was nothing I could do. I think I gave my best at the very beginning. We tried to keep ourselves in contention, but it wasn’t our day today.”