Dan Martin says the searing heat was a surprise in the pivotal time trial stage of the Tour de France.
UAE Team Emirates rider Martin set off on the 27.2km course around Pau as temperatures reached 30 degrees and crossed the line utterly exhausted from the effort.
The Irishman slipped out of the top-10 on a hilly course that suited the general classification riders, but Martin was satisfied with his ride in a discipline that doesn’t suit him.
Speaking at the finish, Martin said: “The heat was the biggest surprise. On the first climb I felt it straight away.
“Then you get into your rhythm and it’s a really quick course. You have to concentrate at all times.”
Martin’s time was strong enough for 33rd place on the stage, finishing just two seconds quicker than Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and 20 seconds better than Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale).
His time sees him slip to 11th place on GC, 4-15 behind race leader and TT winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and 2-49 down on Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos).
Martin, 32, added: “We knew there was a lot of climbing and that suits me. The plan was to go hard on the first part and then hold on towards the end. It’s what you do in every TT, you go out hard and then try and get to the finish line.
“I’m happy. I’m improving a lot thanks to the team. We’ll keep working on it.
“I did my best and that’s all you can ask for. I felt really good. That builds me up for the coming days.”
The race continues in the Pyrenees on stage 14 with the dreaded Tourmalet summit finish.