Top Banana: Tour de France stage 2 – Tony Martin
You’ve rather accidently taken the yellow jersey on the opening stage – or won it with an unexpected rider, to say the least. You’ve got a team time trial the next day, up against a monstrously strong Ineos line-up, hotly tipped to take the stage and wrestle the yellow away from your man Teunissen.
Sure enough, the Ineos boys – bizarrely first away due to being last on team classification – settled down for a long day in the hot seats as squad after squad failed to topple the finely-drilled British outfit.
Who you going to call? Why, Tony Martin, of course.
Jumbo-Visma are packed with decent time-trialling talent. Wout van Aert is brilliant at anything, let’s face it. George Bennett is a player. Steven Kruijswijk is a powerhouse. The yellow jersey himself, Mike Teunissen, may be unused to being the centre of attention, but is a solid performer across the board.
But the veteran Martin, new man on the team following a less than satisfactory two years with Katusha, was the driving force and lifted the entire team’s performance to put a quite stunning 20 seconds into Ineos on the line.
The reigning German national time-trial champion has now won seven times in the team discipline. And with good reason. Strong riders in a TTT can be a double-edged sword. Surge through too fast and they tear the line apart. Sit on the front too long and they upset the rhythm. Jumbo-Visma were absolutely drilled, and Martin played his part to perfection.
The Panzerwagen rolls on. Long live the Panzerwagen. And his Top Banana.
The Rouleur Top Banana goes to an unsung hero of each stage of the Tour de France – not the winner, not the yellow jersey – but a rider whose efforts deserve recognitionT
Rouleur Top Bananas, 2019
Stage 1: Greg Van Avermaet
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