Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider Tony Martin stormed to his maiden Tour de France flat stage win yesterday as Frenchman Tony Gallopin took over possession of the yellow jersey.
Martin powered away early on in stage nine and never showed signs of slowing down.
The German continually pulled away from the peloton, finishing two minutes and 45 seconds clear of Fabian Cancellara in Mulhouse.
It means he will now wear the polka dot jersey heading into stage 10.
“It is always a big difference between the success in a race and in a time trial,” claimed Martin.
“You don’t know when you cross the line in a time trial if you have won, but here, with this, where I knew five kilometres out that even with a puncture or a crash I would still be all right.
“I didn’t want to be involved in the silly game if I was caught by the chasers so I still had some power left in my legs so I decided to go for it.
“It was an incredible feeling, one of my best days in cycling.”
Gallopin, riding for UCI ProTeam Lotto-Belisol, will be sporting the yellow jersey as the general classification on Bastille Day as he finished well clear of Vincenzo Nibali, who had been in the lead for a week after taking control of top spot back in Sheffield last week.
The Frenchman will start stage 10 one minute and 34 seconds clear of Nibali.
The latter’s Astana team-mate Jakob Fuglsang also dropped down the general classification – from second to fourth – as Tiago Machado moved into third place for Netapp-Endura.
Team Sky manager Sir Dave Brailsford has backed Richie Porte to deliver a third successive Tour de France title to the team but the Australian now sits over three and a half minutes off the lead in fifth place, despite finishing Saturday’s stage in fourth, behind France’s Blel Kadri.
Alberto Contador is ninth overall despite taking three seconds out of Nibali on Saturday.