Tour Stage 20: Martin wins TT but France steals the show

There were no surprises as Tony Martin romped to victory in the only time trial of this year’s Tour, while Vincenzo Nibali consolidated his lead at the top of the general classification heading into tomorrow’s Parisian procession. However, it was the French home heroes who really stole the show, with Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot both guaranteeing podium finishes.

TdF 2014 St 20 profile

Martin powers to victory

The Panzerwagen powers on (Image: letour.fr/Presse Sports/J.Prevost)

The Panzerwagen powers on (Image: letour.fr/Presse Sports/J Prevost)

Today’s time trial course was perhaps a little more undulating than Tony Martin‘s (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) ideal parcours, though the stage profile certainly made the hills look a little more intimidating than they really were. The German world time trial champion had no problem putting the hammer down, and seemed to be catching riders as soon as he’d rolled out of the start-house.

He comfortably clocked the day’s best time, en route to his second win of the Tour. It was another show of incredible dominance from der Panzerwagen, with second-placed finisher Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) coming home a massive 1:39 in arrears.

The podium scrap

Heading into the stage, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) sat second and third in the general classification, both with a buffer of less than 15 seconds over Spanish time trial champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

Fortunately for the home fans, Valverde continued his recent run of poor form during the time trial, and never seriously looked capable of challenging either of the French riders. That left them scrapping between themselves over the second step on the podium.

As the better time-trialist, it didn’t take long for Peraud to overhaul his 13-second deficit and take virtual second place, with Pinot unable to match his compatriot. There was brief drama when the 37-year-old picked up a puncture midway through the 54km course, though luckily it didn’t affect the outcome. The veteran recovered to take second on the general classification by over 30 seconds, with Pinot comfortably holding off Valverde to take the final podium spot..

Puncture costs Bardet

Peraud’s puncture wasn’t enough to cost him a general classification position, though his teammate Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) wasn’t so lucky. His bike change out on the course was coupled with an impressive ride from BMC’s Tejay van Garderen, who managed to clock a sufficiently quick time to overhaul the Frenchman and snatch fifth place overall by just two seconds. In short, Bardet’s bike change cost him fifth.

Alongside van Garderen, the day’s other big general classification winners were Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) and Haimar Zubeldia (Trek), who capitalised on the time trial blues of Belkin duo Laurens ten Dam and Bauke Mollema to leapfrog them into seventh and eighth place overall. Needless to say, Vincenzo Nibali comfortably held onto his lead, with his fourth-place finish on the stage ensuring he should win the Tour by the biggest winning margin since Jan Ullrich in 1997.

VeloVoices rider(s) of the day

Sharing is caring here at VeloVoices, so once again today’s award is going to multiple riders. In honour of their fantastic showing throughout the time trial – and, indeed, the race itself – the French duo of Jean-Christophe Peraud and Thibaut Pinot get the joint prize.

Their podium finishes mean France will have two riders on the Champs-Élysées steps for the first time since Laurent Fignon edged out Bernard Hinault to the yellow jersey in 1984, and with Romain Bardet having looked so impressive throughout the Tour, and other youngsters such as Kenny Elissonde and Warren Barguil having starred in other major races, I’m willing to bet we won’t have to wait quite so long for the next one.

Stage 20 result

1. Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) 1:06:21

2. Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) +1:39

3. Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) +1:47

4. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +1:58

5. Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) +2:02

General classification

1. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) 86:37:52

2. Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) +7:52

3. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) +8:24

4. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +9:55

5. Tejay van Garderen (BMC) +11:44

6. Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) +11:46

7. Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) +14:41

8. Haimar Zubeldia (Trek) +18:12

9. Laurens ten Dam (Belkin) +18:20

10. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) +21:24

Points leader: Peter Sagan (Cannondale).

King of the Mountains leader: Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo).

Best young rider: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).

Team classification: Ag2r La Mondiale.

Links: Official websitecyclingnews.com

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