The UAE Team Emirates rider won the stage ahead of Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team). Now, with time bonuses, he sits 21st at 1-27 minutes overall.
“I really just saw the opportunity,” said Martin. “I thought maybe it was too early, but if I hesitated then maybe I’d be too late – I had nothing to lose. And if they caught me, I knew I could stay with them because of the headwind.
“On the climb, I felt the headwind and thought maybe it won’t be my day, but when I attacked, I didn’t look back until the near the end. I kept going and my legs seemed to be there for me.”
Martin tried a similar move in 2015 when the Tour de France last visited, but he managed only second place.
In 2018, he arrived to the Tour more mature after having raced for team Quick-Step and joining Emirates at the start of 2018.
“Yes, all day I thought of that and when I went,” Martin said of 2015.
“I went same place as in 2015, and I knew it was with a lot hotter stage everyone was tired and it would be hard on the climb.”
Martin is concentrated on the overall in this 2018 edition, giving it a proper go after finishing sixth overall last year with two fractures in his vertebrae.
“The most important thing today is the victory. Like I said before, when I had a lot of the questions this morning about if I was aiming for the stage victory or to take time, I said, if I win the stage, I take time,” continued Martin.
“We are very happy today. Now we have our stage victory, we’re enjoying it here and now we will enjoy the Tour even more whatever happens.”
The Tour de France is only in its first week with two flat stages and the Roubaix stage on the immediate horizon. After a rest day/transfer, the race resumes for its second week in the Alps. Martin will take it calmly.
“This season, I realised how I’m affected as a rider by the leadership role. I can’t let the pressure get to me or if I am nervous or stressed then that makes everyone nervous and stressed,” Martin said.
“It is me stepping back and realising what I need to do. I had this moment of reflection. I race best when I am happy and relaxed. When I am happy, everyone is happy, especially when I win.”