To catalogue Tony Martin ’s palmarès would take all day, the list is huge – so we’ve tried to illustrate his diversity.
It was 2003 when he won German Junior National Individual Time trial Championship; within a year he was national champion in the team pursuit alongside track legend, Jens Lehmann – the man Chris Boardman defeated to win the Olympic Pursuit in Barcelona in 1992.
In 2005 as well as riding stagier for Gerolsteiner he won two stages in the prestigious Italian U23 stage race, the Giro delle Regione.
Season 2006 saw him with team Thuringer Energie winning the GC in the U23 Thuringen Rundfahrt and German time trial champs.
In 2007 he won the Ràs and was second in the Tour de L’Avenir – a good pro contract was inevitable.
It was High Road who got his signature for 2008 and he wasted no time establishing himself in the paid ranks, winning the Hel van het Mergelland, a Dutch semi-classic and time trials in the ZLM Toer, Tour de L’Ain and Deutschland Tour.
He stayed with HTC/Columbia/High Road until the end of 2011 and in 2009 took a mountain stage in the Tour de Suisse and was third in the Worlds time trial.
In 2010 he was again Worlds TT bronze medallist and won the Benelux Tour.
The Volta ao Algarve went his way in 2011 as did the big TT’s in the Tour and Vuelta and it was gold at the Worlds.
In 2012 he doubled up with TTT and individual Worlds glory and won the Tour of Belgium.
Last year he took the GC in the Algarve and Belgium again as well as repeating his Worlds iTT and TTT double.
This year so far he’s won the Belgian Tour again and took two TT wins in the Suisse Tour as well as holding the yellow jersey until very near the end.
East German by birth, from Cottbus the 29 year-old is a product of the Erfurt Sports School and arguably still has his best years ahead of him.
We could wax lyrical but thought it best to hear the views of expert witnesses.
Our man with his finger on the Belgian pulse, Ivan tuned in to the Belgian sports news agency, Sporza to get us the latest from QuickStep’s home patch, explaining;
“Martin’s manager, Patrick Lefevre said today it was one of the greatest performances he has ever seen; Tony Martin fought for more than an hour to establish a gap of 30 seconds and then go away from the second group of 25 riders with the whole Europcar team trying to get him back.
“Remember that Lefevre has been one of the most respected managers in the sport for two decades and isn’t prone to throwing praise around.”
“Martin is at the moment renegotiating his contract with OPQS which ends this year, if he stays with Omega Pharma QuickStep he will probably go for the Hour Record in 2016.
“BMC man Greg Van Avermaet who was in the big break and would finish an eventual third on the day said the group of 25 were riding full gas to bring Martin back but could do nothing at all about it.
“The Europcar guys were riding ‘a bloc’ but the man was going away from them. QuickStep DS Wilfried Peeters said that Bakelants and Martin had carte blanche today, but it was the world champion TT who took his chance. Martin said he had perfect legs today – when he has good legs this is the result.
“Patrick Lefevre even said he felt very sorry for the Cannondale guy who had tried to stay with Martin.”
And again, ‘respect’ to QuickStep, they have Kwiatkowski as a potential top six man but don’t use that as an excuse to ride negatively – they’ve enlivened every stage of the race, thus far.
But humbled as we are by Tony’s achievement, perhaps we can offer one wee word of advice; ‘lose the PanzerNonsense hat please, Tony.’
The GC bag of crisps was given a huge shake today but we’re not going to pay too much attention to that given that those 161 K on Monday to the ‘Plank of the Bonnie Lassies’ are going to render anything we write today redundant by the top of that horrible final ascent.
Nonetheless, great to see Gallopin in yellow on Bastille Day and to see fortune favouring Lotto again, after Greipel’s stage win.
And good too to see Pinot and Rolland moving up – but to repeat, let’s wait until stage 10 is over before we run up the tricolour.
The joy of the French guys and QuickStep was in marked contrast to a tired looking Nibali who was no doubt glad to be able to skip the presentations, testing and press conference and get on the massage table early, for once.
Contador was cracking jokes with Benatti as he crossed the line – he’s in good fettle and there’s little doubt he’ll leave his mark on Stage 10, the final day in the Vosges.
And we must mention NetApp-Endura who’s Portuguese rider, Tiago Machado now sits in the third spot on GC – perhaps it’s only temporary but nice to see, nonetheless.
But surely the last words belong to Tony Gallopin.
If you check out the Lotto Belisol ‘Live Tour Dream’ video you’ll hear Tony being asked about his dreams for 2014.
He wants to see France win the World Cup (sorry, Tone) and, ‘a win in the Tour de France.’
Nice to see a man realising a dream – even if just for a day.