Michal Kwiatkowski thanks Omega Pharma-QuickStep team-mate Tony Martin for towing him through the mountains on stage 10
Martin started the 10th stage in the polka dot jersey following a gusty solo victory the day prior but did not contest the intermediate primes in the mountainous 161km run to La Planche des Belles Filles.
Instead, the triple time trial world champion protected Kwiatkowski, who stayed glued second wheel in a break, which Martin, mouth agape, solely controlled for a lengthy time before he peeled off with some 20km remaining and came to a near standstill. He likened the German’s effort to a time trial.
“We didn’t speak so much,” Kwiatkowski told Cycling Weekly just past the mountain-top finish line. “He was just riding on the front. I didn’t want to disturb him. I know how he runs his TTs. He was incredible. It’s the first time I’ve seen something like that.”
Omega Pharma-Quick Step had next to no assistance from fellow escapes, which a polite Kwiatkowski lamented. The 24-year-old was fourth overall and four minutes in arrears of then maillot jaune Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol) at the beginning of the 10th stage.
He rode away after bidding adieu to Martin, with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) following, but faded in the finale and dropped to 13th overall, four minutes and 39 seconds behind new leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) prior to the first rest day of the Tour today.
“If they want to win a stage they (the break) were trying to save their legs but that was not the best idea probably,” he said.
“We could have some more advantage if they support us but in the end no.”
Omega Pharma-Quick Step was prominent within the first phase of the Tour celebrating two individual victories, despite the loss of team leader Mark Cavendish, who abandoned due to a crash in the first stage.