A man can run up a debt at the Tour de France, but sooner rather than later, the race demands that he settles his account. On Saturday, Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) showed enterprise to get in the day’s break and move up seven places to second place overall. Just 24 hours later, the Frenchman was distanced from the yellow jersey group on the descent of the Port d’Envalira and he dropped right back down to ninth on general classification.
“I was expecting that,” Martin said when he reached the mixed zone past the finish line. “I was expecting to suffer after the effort I made yesterday. It was very hard. Fortunately there was a headwind [on the Envalira], which helped to ease the pace for a little bit, but in the end I was on the limit.”
Martin had managed to withstand the pace-making of Ineos Grenadiers on the long, two-part climb to the Tour’s highest point, but the effort he made to stay in contact on the way up came at the cost of his lucidity over the other side. After allowing a gap to open on the first bends of the descent of the Envalira, Martin was simply lacking the strength to close it. With each pedal stroke, the yellow jersey group disappeared further into the valley below him.
It’s frustrating that I was dropped on the first corners of the descent, but that’s because I was really flat out,” said Martin, who eventually found himself with Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck-QuickStep) for company in his forlorn pursuit of Tadej Pogačar (Jumbo-Visma), et al. They were unable to bridge the gap on the drop towards Encamp and their deficit stretched out towards four minutes on the final ascent of the Col de Beixalis.