Every day is another chance to create a promising outcome in the 104th Tour de France, and Sunday’s stage 15 saw Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’S Tony Martin in the hunt for some action on the 189.5km stage from Laissac-Sévérac l'Église to Le Puy-en-Velay. Once Martin and teammates Maurits Lammertink and Robert Kišerlovski made a selection in the group, Martin used his power to ride away at 64km to go in a bid to seek victory. His effort was eventually brought back, but Martin takes away positive feelings from his attempt today.
“The goal was for the whole team to be really aggressive and to be in the breakaway. I brought up the team, we were three guys and we had a small chance for success for today. I saw the guys around me were really strong climbers, especially Warren Barguil, so I knew my only chance was to go on a more flat or hilly part. I tried. I had a nice gap but at the end on the last long climb it was too steep for me and broke my rhythm. I suffered a lot. It was a nice try, I think. I had a small chance but at the end too many guys were pulling and some guys were too strong on the climb,” said Tony Martin.
Another solo move did produce a winning result with the stage win going to Trek-Segafredo’s Bauke Mollema in his first career Tour stage win. With a time of 4:41:47, Mollema was 19-seconds ahead of Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) and Tony Gallopin of Lotto Soudal. Team rider Lammertink was the best on the day in 17th, followed by Martin in 20th. The top of the leader board remained the same with Chris Froome (Team Sky) in yellow and 29-seconds still separating the top four riders after 15 stages of racing.
“These are the days we don’t win but we still end up with a good feeling. I am happy with the team. From the beginning today Tony was the first rider to attack. He made an early break with 10 riders, including Robert. Then later around 15 riders attacked with Maurits so on the top we had 3 riders in the first group, which is a very good situation. We tried to save Maurits for the last climb, so Tony attacked, which was a good move from Tony, but in the end he was caught. You know, when the riders are giving their maximum and are aggressive with a good attitude, was cannot ask more. Our goal is to win a stage and we need to race like this. Everyone is giving his maximum,” said general manager José Azevedo.
Asked if he was disappointed in today’s results, Tony Martin answered: “I think disappointed is the wrong word. At the end it was a hard day and I am happy of the fight that we made. For sure on these kind of days you wish you had more success but the Tour de France is no Kindergarten. I am happy that my condition is good and I’m looking forward to the time trial in Marseille. Also to tomorrow’s rest day.”
The teams will take a break from racing on Monday and stay over in Le Puy-en-Velay, where the next stage will begin on Tuesday. At 165k, the stage 16 ends in Romans-sur-Isère.
Photo credit © Tim De Waele