Etixx - Quick-Step rider Tony Martin never gave up hope of wearing the yellow jersey at the 2015 edition of Le Tour de France, and his dream became real on Tuesday. The German rider launched a late solo attack to win 223.5km Stage 4, taking over the race lead at the Tour de France for the first time in his career.
The fourth Tour stage took the riders from Seraing to Cambrai. There were lots of people to watch the second start in Belgium. Many GC riders weren’t looking forward to this stage because of the distance and the seven cobblestone sectors. With 223.5 kilometres, this was the longest stage of the Tour. The victory was for the German Tony Martin. Tony Gallopin rode very well again and raced attentively. He finished on place eight and is still fourth overall. André Greipel keeps the green jersey.
Martin trailed by 3 seconds after Stage 2, and was only down a single second in the overall following the 3rd stage. Martin now leads by 12" in the overall over Chris Froome (Team Sky). Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) is 3rd, trailing Martin in the overall by 25 seconds.
Giant-Alpecin tried to chase down Martin on the front, but the chase never truly organized in the peloton to bring back Martin before the line in the stage from Seraing to Cambrai. John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) was 2nd, and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) was the 3rd place finisher.
Martin launched his attack with 3.3km remaining, but had it not been for the help of his teammates, the dream of Martin may have been impossible. Martin suffered a mechanical in the late kilometers, and on a day with seven cobbled sectors any gap to the peloton could be devastating. However, Matteo Trentin selflessly gave Martin his bike to ride immediately, and Julien Vermote as well as Michal Golas paced Martin back to the group before the last cobbled section at 13km to go. Golas then went full gas to bring Martin to the front.
The whole team rode all day in support of Martin, including riders like Zdenek Stybar and Mark Cavendish on the front of the field. Rigoberto Uran was also present. Michal Kwiatkowski and Mark Renshaw helped as well earlier in the race. An attack by Stybar with about 11km to go brought Froome, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), and several riders up the road for a brief moment with him. Tinkoff-Saxo made sure the move came back with 7.8km remaining by putting three riders on the front.
The peloton was already drastically reduced due to the high pace and the difficulty of the parcours, including 13 total kilometers of cobbles. The original breakaway was caught with 40km to go in the stage. Martin saw his chance with just a few kilometers to go, and gave it everything he had until the finish line as the peloton fell just meters short of catching him. Zdenek Stybar finished 9th.
Tony Martin's victory is the 35th on the road for Etixx - Quick-Step in 2015.
Etixx - Quick-Step still has three riders in the top 10 of the GC after the heroic win of Martin. Uran remains 7th (+46"), and Stybar is 10th (+1'16").
Adam Hansen and Greg Henderson, who both crashed hard this Tour, showed their perseverance once again and finished today’s stage as well. They both hope they will get better the next days.