Tony Martin's back and arms were a patchwork of red and white after a tough crash on Stage 1 in Corsica. Whether he would be abel to continue the race was in question, and some thought he may simply ride through the team time trial on Stage 4 to help his team secure a likely victory there before dropping out. But, he persisted, slowly recovering, and was one of the earlier riders to start today's time trial.
The world champion of this discipline - for two years in a row - had blood and pus visibly seeping through his bandages and white skinsuit at the end of the 33km long stage today, but despite his injuries and the very visible discomfort accompanying them, he set a time that only one other rider could come within a minute of, and none could match, to win the second Tour de France stage of his career.
The only man to come close to matching the powerful German was overall leader Chris Froome, who was faster at both intermediate time checks but lost ground on the final flat, windy run to the line and finished 12 seconds down. Froome's margin over his rivals for the maillot jaune was perhaps bigger than expected. Second placed Alejandro Valverde, a half respectable time trialist from time to time, was one of the best off and finished two minutes down and now lies 3:25 behind Froome in the overall standings. Valverde had good company, finishing in the middle of a group of overall contenders including Bauke Mollema, Alberto Contador, and Roman Kreuziger who finished within 15 seconds of each other.
There is now a clearer pecking order for the GC as Nairo Quintana and a few other climbers have plunged down, sitting some four or more minutes behind Froome. With such an invincibile seeming lead now, teams must truly get inventive to put Froome under stress because taking 30 seconds or a minute here and there is no longer enough to win. The battle for the podium spots, however, looks as tight as ever with second and sixth separated by less than a minute.
- Tony Martin (Omega Pharma - Quickstep), 36:29
- Chris Froome (Sky Pro Cycling), at 0:12
- Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil), at 1:01
- Richie Porte (Sky Pro Cycling), at 1:21
- Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quickstep), at 1:31
- Svein Tuft (ORICA GreenEdge), at 1:35
- Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma - Quickstep), at 1:37
- Jérémy Roy (FDJ.fr), at 1:43
- Tom Dumoulin (Argos - Shimano), at 1:45
- Jonathan Castroviejo (Euskatel), at 1:52
- Chris Froome (Sky Pro Cycling)
- Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), at 3:25
- Bauke Mollema (Belkin), at 3:37
- Alberto Contador (Saxo - Tinkoff), at 3:54
- Roman Kreuziger (Saxo - Tinkoff), at 3:57
- Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin), at 4:10
- Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quickstep), at 4:44
- Nairo Quintana (Movistar), at 5:18
- Rui Costa (Movistar), at 5:37
- Jean-Christophe Peraud (AG2R La Mondiale), at 5:39
- Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
- Nairo Quintana (Movistar), at 0:34
- Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), at 6:53