CAMBRAI, France – German rider Tony Martin won the fourth stage of the Tour de France to take the overall lead, while Chris Froome and his main rivals safely came through the treacherous cobblestones on Tuesday.
Martin, one second behind Froome overall before the stage started, broke away from Froome’s yellow jersey group some 2 miles from the end of the stage.
Froome and others let him go, knowing that Martin is not a Tour contender.
Martin, 30, a three-time world time trial champion who finished second behind Rohan Dennis in the opening stage’s time trial, finally got the yellow jersey he craves and fell into the arms of his teammates after the stage. Countryman John Degenkolb finished second and Slovak Peter Sagan was third.
“I missed the yellow by a few seconds (on) the first day, I was super upset. All the pressure of the last days has come off,” Martin said. “I was really on the limit. I got round the last corner and I was surprised I could make it.”
He had to work hard. Especially after the final cobblestone section, when he had a flat tire and swapped bikes with teammate Matteo Trentin.
“Changing the bike, with the wrong position, I was just thinking to finish the stage,” Martin said. “Suddenly, five kilometers (from) the finish, I just decided to give it a chance and to go for it, and somehow I found some power and I made it.”
With the time bonuses from his stage win, he leads Froome by 12 seconds and American Tejay Van Garderen by 25 seconds.
“I wasn’t trying to show how strong I was on the cobbles today, it was about staying out of trouble,” Froome said. “Congratulations to Tony for his late attack.”
Defending Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali trails by 1:50, while two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador is 48 seconds off the pace.
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