Alberto Contador steals Tony Martin’s headlines

I think I’ve said this before, but the problem with being Tony Martin is that everyone expects you to win time trials, so when you do, it’s literally unremarkable. What’s newsworthy is when you lose.

Tony Martin won the stage 10 time trial, so let’s move on.

Over the handlebars

The most dramatic moment of the day was when Nairo Quintana hit a barrier and did a complete flip. The impact was sufficient to flip his seat off, but the Colombian was okay to get onto a replacement bike a couple of minutes later. This meant that he finished 4m07s down on Martin and not much less than that down on several major rivals.

He says his brakes failed, but it’s just embarrassment causing him to make that excuse. The truth is he was dicking about with his shoe on a flattish bit, suddenly realised he had totally the wrong line going into a sharp corner, tried to save it and failed.

Over the top

The main beneficiary was Alberto Contador who finished fourth behind Fabian Cancellara. You wouldn’t normally expect him to do so well in a time trial these days, but this one had a hill in it and it’s notable that he was the fastest over the top. He can be increasingly certain that he is the best climber in the race and now that he’s in the leader’s red jersey, it will be hard to catch him. If Quintana could conceivably beat him in the mountains, he has 3m25s to make up. That’s a hell of a lot.

Rigoberto Uran was another to have a good day. He came second and increasingly seems like a better time trialist than climber, which is annoying for everyone who likes to stereotype the Colombians as being out-and-out mountain men. Uran is now third overall, 59 seconds down.

Alejandro Valverde had an okay day. Third by eight seconds at the start of the day, he is now second by 27 seconds. Whether that’s progress or not rather depends on what you’re aiming for, I suppose.

Chris Froome had a fairly toss day. He says he got his pacing wrong, but like Quintana that sounds a bit like an excuse – although in this case for mediocre form. He came 10th on the day and is fifth overall, but it’s hard to see how he can gain time on those ahead of him because the time trial should have given him an advantage.

Carlos Betancur watch

Carlos clearly didn’t overeat on the rest day because he put in a searing time trial, securing 174th place for himself, a mere 6m56s behind Martin. He now has a 10-minute cushion over last placed Matteo Pelucchi and three full minutes on Dominic Klemme who’s second-to-last.

Stage 11

Here’s the profile. Nothing too dramatic until the finish, when they suddenly have to tackle a 10km concrete track. It’s a proper climb made even harder by the fact that it’s a really crappy surface – and narrow too. This is no place for drafting or teamwork. It’s every man for himself.