On the first uphill test of the Tour de France, which came much earlier this year than in the past, Dan Martin powered to an impressive second place, which saw the Irishman jump 12 positions in the overall standings.
Martin accelerated on the 20% ramps leading to the finish, dropped defending champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Richie Porte (BMC), arriving just a handful of seconds behind stage 5 winner Fabio Aru (Astana).
Long before the peloton hit the base of the 5.9km-long climb – one of the crucial tests of this edition – Team Sky piled up the pressure, reducing the bunch and pouring lead into the legs of many riders. Fabio Aru (Astana) attacked with 2.4km to go. Chris Froome (Sky) reacted, followed by Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Richie Porte (BMC). Martin, who was at all times well-positioned in the upper echelon of the peloton launched a short attack himself to test the waters.
The main riders failed to reel Aru in and the Italian champion won the stage. Dan Martin went one more time and distanced himself from everybody else to claim Ireland’s best result in three decades on a summit finish at the Tour de France. The result strengthened the 30-year-old’s credentials for a strong overall result by the time the race arrives in Paris.
Defending champion Chris Froome finished 4 seconds behind the Irishman in third place and in the process gained the yellow jersey.
Martin, who had finished third on stage 3 of this year’s Tour, was happy with another impressive finish:
“Tough day out there, I felt the heat on the final climb and at times you had the impression you were glued to the road. Fabio was strong, so congrats to him, but despite coming second, I am satisfied. I’m very confident, as I really enjoy racing here and don’t feel any pressure whatsoever. The team is on a roll, we are the best squad in the world, which you can see by taking a look over the victories and list of results since the start of the season. Of course, it’s still early and a lot can happen in the Tour, but so far I’m happy of how things went“, said Dan, who nabbed his second podium in the space of three days, after the one in Longwy, which catapulted him to fourth place in the general classification, only 25 seconds behind the leader.
Dan Martin starts Thursday’s stage just 25 seconds behind Chris Froome while Nicolas Roche is in 21st position 2 minutes 14 seconds behind the race leader.