Toni Martin is the new king of time-trial hill. The big German diesel powered his Specialized to a morale-booster victory in Monday’s 10th stage at the Vuelta a España against an elite field of rivals he will face off against at next month’s world championships.
Martin beat back arch-rivals Bradley Wiggins and Fabian Cancellara to claim his sixth individual time trial victory on the 2011 season that’s seen Martin emerge as the man to beat against the clock.
“I am very satisfied with this victory. I am at this Vuelta not only to prepare for the worlds, but to perform as well,” Martin said. “This is the Vuelta and to win here is one of my important victories of my career.”
Martin roared out of the gates and posted the fastest splits on a hilly, windy 47km course on an out-and-back route battered by strong crosswinds in Salamanca, Spain. Martin stopped the clock in 55 minutes, 54 seconds (50.447kph) to notch his second grand-tour stage victory. His first was in the Tour de France in July, when he ripped the legs off everyone to win the final time trial in Grenoble.
Martin won by 59 seconds to Chris Froome, who slots into the Vuelta’s race leader’s red jersey, and 1:22 ahead of Wiggins. Cancellara set an early fast time, but settled for fourth at 1:27 slower.
“I am a bit surprised at the time differences, but I prefer it like this! It is better to have a nice margin and you can relax to watch the other riders coming in,” Martin said. “It was a long time trial and then I had to wait nearly two hours before I knew that I was the winner. It was a long wait, but worth it. I am very happy.”
It was a solid day for other Specialized riders on a challenging course that favored the specialists such as Martin and Cancellara. Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) was 11th to climb into fifth overall at just 34 seconds behind Froome.
Chris-Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank-SunGard), a lean climber who was second at Sierra Nevada in stage 4, did his best to limit his losses and slotted into 20th at 4:07 back.
German time trial champion Bert Grabsch (HTC-Highroad) said he was expecting more, but a punishing Vuelta left him without any power on a course that, on paper at least, suited his style of racing.