Victory may have eluded him on stage three of the Tour de France, but Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) was in good spirits after finishing in third place, saying that the result shows his in the condition that he needs to be in to challenge for the general classification.
The skinny climber was the the odd one out in the final sprint in Longwy, finishing in third place behind sprinters Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), and one position ahead of Classics star Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).
Martin said that his third place was the result of being in the right place at the right time, with the team initially looking to set up Philippe Gilbert or Zdenek Stybar.
“There was just an opportunity,” he said after while warming down on his turbo trainer after the stage.
“It didn’t feel that hard on the climb but then Richie [Porte] went. He went really strong and really lined it out, but I just found myself on Matthews’ wheels and then found myself on Greg’s wheel.”
The Irishman described how he was on the wheel of Van Avermaet when Sagan pulled his foot out of his pedal, and with the line still a few hundred metres away, Van Avermaet hesitated, allowing Sagan to clip back in.
Watch: Tour de France stage three highlights
Sprinting for the line, Martin was unable to come around Sagan, who crossed the line first to win his eighth Tour stage.
“I just don’t have the power that Sagan has on a finish like that,” Martin continued.
“In those sprints it’s just pure horsepower. If it was a little bit steeper then maybe I could have beaten him.”
Tuesday’s stage four sees the riders tackle 207.5km, starting in Mondorf-Les-Bains, and finishing with a likely bunch sprint in Vittel.
The following day the GC contenders will face their first mountain test with a summit finish to La Planche des Belle Filles, and although Martin wasn’t prepared to speculate beyond tomorrow’s stage, he was happy with his form after testing his legs into Longwy today.
“I’m really happy with how it went, I didn’t expect that result. I haven’t done that sort of effort in training for a long, long time so it shows that the condition is good and we’re in the right place.”