World time trial champion Tony Martin has scored a stunning solo victory in the ninth stage of the Tour de France, while Tasmanian Richie Porte dropped to fifth overall.
Frenchman Tony Gallopin took the race leader’s yellow jersey in the 170km stage from Gerardmer to Mulhouse a day before Bastille Day and is hoping to hold it for the French National Day on Monday.
Tasmanian Porte, who unexpectedly became Sky’s team leader after Chris Froome crashed out in stage five, is now placed fifth at 3:32 after dropping from third spot, while two-time former winner Alberto Contador is down three places to ninth at 4:08.
German rider Martin took victory after breaking away from escape companion Alessandro De Marchi around 60km from home.
It was the fifth victory by Germans in the nine stages so far.
“The objective was to win the stage. There was a chance to do it and I felt good, my legs felt good,” Martin said.
“I knew it would be one of my rare chances to win a stage.”
A group of 20 chasers, including Gallopin, came home 2min 45sec after Martin, with the peloton a further five minutes further back.
One-day Classics specialists Fabian Cancellara and Greg Van Avermaet took second and third respectively on the stage.
Gallopin had started the day 11th overall, 3:27 behind previous race leader Vincenzo Nibali, who drops to second, but now leads by 1:34.
Portugal’s Tiago Machado moved up from 20th to third overall at 1:40 after finishing in Gallopin’s group.
Other members of the chase group to make significant general classification strides included
Frenchman Pierre Rolland, who jumped 15 places to eighth at 4:07.
The race from Gerardmer to Mulhouse – in the mid-sized Vosges mountain range near the German border – featured six mostly moderate uphill treks that posed Martin little problem, even though he is not a reputed climber.
“When the stage started to climb I realised I was stronger and started to attack and then things went well,” he said.
“We’re close to Germany and that was an extra incentive.”