Tony Martin v the peloton

I think I’ve said before that cycling isn’t about winning. It’s about losing. It’s about losing with panache. Tony Martin lost stage six of the Vuelta in the absolute finest style.

When seventh outranks first

The official result has Martin in seventh place and Michael Morkov first, but the official result can go to hell. No-one who saw this stage will remember anything of it other than Tony Martin. He attacked as soon as he could and rode the whole thing alone. It was Tony Martin v the peloton and he damn near won. For coming even remotely close, he deserves the utmost respect.

At one point Martin was seven minutes ahead, but with 20km to go, that was down to a minute. You normally expect the break to be caught easily in that situation, but we saw earlier in the Vuelta that Martin is a one-man team time trial. It took a hell of a lot of riders sharing the load for the peloton to manage to move faster than him. With a kilometre to go, he was still ahead.

What followed was heartbreaking, but only if you see the sport in terms of results. Germany’s most relentless thighs were probably little more than 20 metres from the line when the sprinters went past him. 175km alone and he was pipped at the post.

Strength in numbers

Just think about that. It is easier to cycle behind someone else. The last few kilometres pitted one man who hadn’t been able to cycle behind someone else all day against a whole cast of riders who’d spent it drifting along in the peloton. Even then, going flat out and sharing the work between endless sets of fresh legs, they only just managed to catch him.

A win’s nice and all, but there’s no greater honour than a ‘chapeau’.

Chapeau, Tony Martin. Chapeau!

Stage seven

Flat again. Here’s the profile. Don’t expect anything from Tony Martin though. It’ll take him days to recover from this.