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Martin 7th on stage as Roche closes on Tour’s top ten

Posted 18 July 2012

Dan Martin has taken seventh place on the toughest mountain stage of the Tour de France with Nicolas Roche also riding superbly to move within one place and four seconds of regaining his place in the top ten on GC.

The 197 kilometre stage over four categorised climbs was won by Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) whose solo victory also helped him recover his lead in the mountains classification.
Martin (Garmin-Sharp) was active from the start and his determination to find a place in the day’s break was rewarded after 22 kilometres when a 38 man group representing seventeen teams was let go.
They pulled out five minutes over the first climb of the hors category Col d’Aubisque but the cracks started to show when Martin lifted the pace on the next climb of the famed Col du Tourmalet.
His aggressive riding could only be matched by Voeckler and Brice Feillu (Saur-Sojasun) with the trio soon pulling clear in a move which had all the hallmarks of going the distance.
Martin though paid for his earlier efforts as the road dragged and ramped to the summit and he had conceded 1’08” by the time he crested the climb behind the French duo.
He closed that gap to a mere 35 seconds on the descent and was joined by George Hincapie (BMC) Jens Voigt (Radioshack-Nissan), Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), Vasill Kiryienka (Astanta) and Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank) en route to the Col d”Aspin. 
Voeckler and Feilliu were 1’10” up over fragmented groups of chasers over the climb where defending champion Cadel Evans (BMC) cracked and lost 45 seconds on race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and the group of race favourites which also contained Roche.
Martin’s hopes of returning to the head of the race were over by the final climb of the Col de Peyresourde where Roche’s performance in staying in contention and fighting to improve his GC standing was hugely impressive.
A succession of attacks from third placed Vincenzo Nibali ripped the group to shreds and with four kilometres to the summit only race leader Bradley Wiggins and Sky teammate Chris Froome could respond.
Voeckler meanwhile had set off alone and never looked back on the 16 kilometres to the finish where he celebrated victory with a margin of 1’40” over Sorensen and 3’22” over third placed Gorka Izaguirre Isausti (Euskatel-Euskadi).
Martin won the sprint from a chase group of four riders to take seventh place some 6’08” back with Roche doing likewise from a seven man group to finish 14th, just under a minute back on Wiggins, Froome and Nibali.
Roche is now 11th overall and within four seconds of regaining his place in the top ten while Martin has climbed to 46th overall.
Tour de France
Stage 16: Pau – Bagneres-de-Luchon, 197 kilometres
1.  Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 5:35:02
2.  Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank 0:01:40
3.  Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:03:22
4.  Alexandr Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
5.  Brice Feillu (Fra) Saur - Sojasun 0:03:58
6.  Jens Voigt (Ger) RadioShack-Nissan 0:04:18
7.  Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin - Sharp 0:06:08
8.  Simone Stortoni (Ita) Lampre - ISD
9.  Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha Team
10.  Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team 0:06:11
14. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 8 minutes, 07 seconds
General classification after stage 16:
1.  Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 74:15:32
2.  Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:05
3.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:23
4.  Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:05:46
5.  Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:07:13
6.  Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:07:55
7.  Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:08:06
8.  Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:09:09
9.   Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:10:10
10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:11:43
11. Nicolas Roche (Irl) AG2R La Mondiale at 11 minutes, 47 seconds
46. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 1 hour, 19 minutes, 38 seconds

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