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PERIGUEUX, France AFP) — Tony Martin said he would have been tough to beat even if the rest of the best time trialists in the world had been at the Tour de France on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider, a three-time world champion in the race against the clock, won the stage-20 individual time trial in decisive fashion. He beat the Dutch time trial champion, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano), by a minute and 39 seconds over the 54km course from Bergerac to Périgueux, while Czech champ Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura) had to settle for third at 1:47.
Martin said the race might have been tighter had other top time trialists been there, but says he would have been tough to beat in any case.
“A lot of guys couldn’t start today from the real contenders, like Bradley Wiggins and Fabian Cancellara,” he said.
“To be honest I made a really good race today, my condition was really good, I still have power after three weeks.
“It’s really hard to say, but I think today it would have been hard for anybody to beat me.”
Even so, Martin was struck by the margin of his victory.
“I’m a little surprised — after three weeks of the Tour de France I expected to be a little bit more tired and I thought many others would finish closer, but right from the start I had a good feeling and I knew it could be my race today,” he said.
Dumoulin said he had done his best, adding that beating Martin would have been a step too far.
“It was long and hard, especially after three weeks,” he said. “Tony Martin is at another level. On such a long time trial, it’s impossible for me to beat him.”
Barta felt he had made a tactical error, although he was happy with his showing.
“I rode a good time trial but I was a little bit too fast in the first part,” he said.
Another strong man in the race of truth, Spanish TT champ Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), struggled in the test and could finish only 28th on the day, leaving him fourth overall.
“I was aware throughout the stage that I was losing the podium. I tried to do well but my body didn’t respond,” he said.
“When you give it everything, you can’t have regrets. But I’m happy, fourth at the Tour de France is a good result.”
And his season isn’t over yet.
“The Tour is important, but it’s not the only race,” said Valverde. “I’ll go to the Vuelta (a España) with ambitions too.”