Say the word ‘prologue’ and you’ll invariably think of cyclists like Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) and Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) – both formidable against the clock in the short opening stages.
But Martin wasn’t too keen on the way race organisers decided to start the 2016 Critérium du Dauphiné with a mountain test up Mont Chery in Les Gets – a 3.9km time trial with gradients of around 25 per cent in some of the hairpins.
The German has a pretty formidable record in time trials, winning three consecutive World Championships, but described the Dauphiné’s prologue as turning cycling into a “circus”.
Martin tweeted this after finishing 62nd on the stage, 1-26 down on winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).
Joining Martin in the upper echelons of the time trial scene in recent years is Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) and the Dutch rider disagreed with Martin’s statement.
It was certainly a different stage to what we are used to see. There are often mountain time trials later in races – like at the Tour de France this year – but this is the first time since the 2013 Tour de Romandie that we’ve seen a prologue go up a mountain. That day, Martin finished 29 seconds down on winner Chris Froome (Team Sky).
Watch highlights of the Critérium du Dauphiné prologue
At the Dauphiné, though, not only did Martin not enjoy his spin up a mountain he also lost the ‘Martin Cup’ to his teammate Dan Martin.
As Dan proudly points out, he’s unbeaten against Tony in time trials this year – one ‘win’ from one attempt, but he doesn’t seem to confident of keeping his record immaculate.