Martin powers to impressive win in stage nine of Tour de France
Mountain run in Vosges sees Nibali surrender yellow jersey to Gallopin
Tony Martin of Germany powered to an impressive victory in the ninth stage of the Tour de France after a 170km mountain raid in the Vosges on Sunday that saw Vincenzo Nibali surrender the yellow jersey to France’s Tony Gallopin.
Time-trial world champion Martin attacked after 15km and dropped his breakaway companion with just under 60 left to win his third Tour stage following time trial victories in 2011 and last year.
Swiss Fabian Cancellara took second place and Belgian Greg van Avermaet finished third in the stage from Gerardmer to Mulhouse.
Gallopin took the overall leader’s yellow jersey after Nibali’s Astana team did not chase hard to catch a counter-attacking group.
That meant the Kazakh team will not be forced to defend the lead in Monday's stage, one of the most demanding of the Tour.
Gallopin, of the Lotto-Belisol team, now leads Italian Nibali by one minute 34 seconds going into the 161.5km trek to La Planche des Belles Filles but has little hope of retaining the lead.
Gallopin, whose uncle is a sports director with the Trek team, is the first Frenchman to wear the yellow jersey since Thomas Voeckler in 2011.
Several groups attacked early on, with Martin of the Omega Pharma-Quick Step (OPQS) team and Italian Alessandro De Marchi leading the way.
They were followed by a group of 28 featuring Pierre Rolland – fourth in the Giro this year – and Gallopin, who had been 3:27 behind Nibali at the start.
Martin’s mammoth work helped the duo build a 6:30 lead over the peloton while the Gallopin group could not close the gap, gradually falling back despite the work of Rolland’s Europcar teammates.
Martin powered away with 59km left at the foot of the first-category climb of the Col de Markstein, keeping the Gallopin group at bay while De Marchi struggled.
The OPQS rider, who had come agonisingly close in the Vuelta last year when he was caught by the bunch a few metres from the line after a 175km breakaway, had time to celebrate well before the finish this time.