GERMANY’S triple time-trial world champion Tony Martin won the ninth stage of the Tour de France yesterday as Frenchman Tony Gallopin cheered the home crowds by taking over the yellow jersey.
Omega Pharma Quick-Step rider Martin joined Alessandro di Marchi in an early breakaway and dropped the Italian almost 60km from the finish before streaking away to win by two minutes and 45 seconds. It was Martin’s third career stage win on the Tour, though a first non-time trial victory, and marked the fifth stage won by a Germany in this year’s race.
Lotto Belisol rider Gallopin finished in the first group to take the overall lead for the first time in his career. Italian Vincenzo Nibali, who had worn the yellow jersey since winning stage two in Sheffield, crossed the line in Mulhouse eight minutes behind Martin.
Australian Richie Porte, who has taken over as lead rider for Team Sky following the withdrawal of Britain’s Chris Froome, was in the same group as Astana rider Nibali and two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador.
Porte dropped to fifth in the general classification, three minutes and 32 seconds behind Gallopin, following the 170km mountain stage.
Team Sky Welshman Geraint Thomas fell for the second stage in succession but played down the “little tumble” and focused on today’s 10th stage, which he predicts will see the title favourites take shape.
“It’s up and down all day and I think the GC [general classification] will really get sorted out,” he said. “There will be a lot of tired bodies and some big attacks on the last climb.”
Elsewhere Manxman Pete Kennaugh answered his critics in emphatic style as the man overlooked by Team Sky for a place in their line-up in France won the Tour of Austria.
Kennaugh’s success came just two weeks after the 25-year-old won the road race at the British Cycling National Championships.