Tour of Belgium Stage 3: Martin Wins TT & Takes Race Lead, Four OPQS Top 5 GC & Top 10 Stage
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Tony Martin came into Tour of Belgium with his eyes on both the GC, and the 15km ITT of Tour of Belgium Stage 3 on Friday. Thanks to a top performance despite rainy conditions, Martin won the time trial by 40", and also had more than enough of a gap to take over the red jersey for the race lead.
Martin's finishing time of 17'42" meant he was the only rider who finished the course in less than 18 minutes. He came into the stage down in the GC by 20" on Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol). He now has a 40" GC lead.
OPQS also had four riders finish in the stage top 10: Kristof Vandewalle was 6th (+53"), Tom Boonen 8th (+1'00") and Niki Terpstra 10th (+1'01"). Four riders now sit in the top 5 GC: Boonen 3rd (50"), Vandewalle 4th (+53"), and Terpstra 5th (+59").
This is the 29th (27th road) victory for OPQS in 2013. It is also the fifth ITT Martin has won this year.
"I don't know what the conditions for the others were, but I had wet roads," Martin said. "I had to slow down a bit in the corners but also take a few risks. So, I'm really amazed that I'm in the lead and also with a big gap. I hope it stays now like this until the end. It would be really great for me and the team. The roads are really hard in the last two days, especially the last day. So, I think it will be much more work than last year. But we have a very strong team as you can see by all the riders we have in the top five GC and top 10 stage classifications. So, we will do our best to protect the race lead with a great group."
"The parcour wasn't so technical, but the rain complicated a lot the things," Sport Director Tom Steels said. "Tony had to ride in the rain, so in all the corners he had to slow down — but he really went fast in the straight part of the parcour. He really had confidence in his materials and tires today. Concerning the GC, we will face two difficult stages. Especially on Sunday, it's a really hard stage it's going to be tricky. He has a good advantage, but it will be a fight until the end."