Tony Martin is talking the talk, the Tour de France smack. After his big win in Paris-Nice, he says he has the confidence and skills to get to the next level, the one in France in July in front of the entire cycling world.
“I’ve had a fantastic start to the season; it gives me so much confidence for the next races and particularly for having a good Tour de France. I think I’m ready for it,” said Martin.
Big talk isn’t worth much in March with the Tour still three and a half months away. Still, Martin continues to improve, his HTC-Highroad team is strong and he wants to aim for the GC.
Twisted Spoke still remembers Martin riding over his head on Mont Ventoux in the 2009 Tour de France. He and Manuel Garante battled all the way to the line and Martin’s director sportifs Rolf Aldag and Brian Holm practically willed him to a win. The man has skills and tenacity.
Since then he has become the second best time trialer in the world behind Fabian Cancellara. A sort of Spartacus Lite. He finished second to the world time trial champion in both races again the clock in last year’s Tour de France.
Still, is he really ready? He finished the 2010 Tour burned out and dead tired and 137th. That’s a long way from a podium or top ten. Nobody, not even Martin, claims he’s going to climb with Contador or Schleck.
“I’ve learned from my mistakes last year,” says Martin. “The Tour de France is my next goal. In July I’ll try to go for GC again.”
There’s no question he’s reached another level, but Le Tour is its own unique torture test. Perhaps Martin should chat with former teammate Michael Rogers. A superb rider against the clock and a major threat in any week-long stage race, Rogers has never made much of a dent in the Tour de France. Three weeks is an eternity in the Tour.
Martin might win a Tour time trial but the reality of a top ten seems far-fetched at this point.