2015 Best Moments: Tony Martin tames the cobbles and takes the yellow jersey!
Etixx – Quick-Step had another successful season in 2015, with 54 road wins alongside 69 other podium places. Over the next weeks we will look back on the 10 biggest moments for the team in the 2015 season. Our previous moments focused on Niki Terpstra, Mark Cavendish, Michal Kwiatkowski and Julian Alaphilippe. Our next best moment is the great day of Tony Martin's exploits in stage four in the Tour de France.
Tony Martin came at the start of this year's Tour de France with two goals in his mind: to win the inaugural individual time trial and get his hands on the prestigious yellow jersey. In Utrecht, he lined-up as the main favourite, but eventually had to settle for second in the ITT, missing on the victory for just a couple of seconds. In the next two stages, he came close to done the maillot jaune, but was denied each time, many believing at that point there's no more chance left for him to fulfill neither of the two targets he had for the race.
But all those who know the 30-year-old German are aware of the fact he never gives up and always finds a way to get things done the way he wants. A new sample of his fighting spirit came in the fourth stage, which took the peloton from Seraing to Cambrai, over 223.5 kilometers and various cobbled sectors, some of which have been used also in Paris-Roubaix, the "Hell of the North".
On a dry day, there weren't any big moves in the peloton on the cobbles despite a hectic last 50 kilometers, and this led to the main group counting around 40 riders with three kilometers to go. That was the moment Tony Martin – who returned to the pack after having a puncture on the last cobbled sector – decided to take everyone by surprise and attack on the left side of the road, riding clear and building a 10-second gap in the blink of an eye. It was the last time the peloton saw him before the finish, where he came with a three-second gap over the sprinters, celebrating one of the most beautiful days of his life, the day finally got to wear the yellow jersey that had eluded him for so long.
Sadly, Tony Martin's race came to an abrupt end a couple of days later, when he crashed and fractured his collarbone, an injury which prevented him from starting stage seven.
"I wasn't really thinking about anyone following me when I attacked", Martin said following his victory. "Maybe everyone saw when I had a flat tyre in the last cobbled section. I had to change to Matteo's bike. Maybe they thought I was more on the limit than what I actually was when I launched in that moment. It's also possible no one expected such an early attack. I think inside four kilometers to go everyone was on their hands and knees. It was just the right moment for me to try my chance. I found some extra power. I got a good gap. I knew this finale really well. I was here before for training for two days. I did 180 kilometers of the stage, I knew every little detail. I knew if I could make it to the last kilometer, which was a little more technical with the cobbles and the hard left hand turn, I would have a chance. I'm thrilled about my solo victory and my race leadership. It really surprised me that I could make it, because I was really tired after chasing back after the flat. In the previous days I missed the yellow by just a few seconds. My goal was to get it on the first day and I was sad I missed it. I came closer, but I never had it. The day before was super hard. I knew the chance was there, but it was obviously not my kind of stage. So, the pressure was getting bigger and bigger. Today I was really motivated. I had all the support from the team and I really wanted to get the yellow for me and especially for the team. Crossing the line in first, knowing I won the stage but also that I got yellow, makes me super happy that I can give everything back to the team that they gave me in the last days. I am also proud to wear this yellow jersey for Germany."