• Martin and Alaphilippe in the break (AAP)Source: AAP
Tony Martin thought that today would be a nice day for a long training ride. Julian Alaphillippe thought it would be fun to go with him. Big mistake.
Cycling Central

19 Jul 2016 - 7:47 AM  UPDATED 19 Jul 2016 - 11:39 AM

Etixx-QuickStep's Tony Martin has had a relatively quiet Tour de France thus far. Underperforming in the Stage 13 time trial - by his standards anyway - it's clear he felt a need for a solid hit out. So, when he and teammate Julian Alaphilippe took off early on Stage 16, it looked like it could be a long day for Der Panzerwagen.

Even so, Martin seemed to enjoy what was essentially a long training ride in preparation for the Rio Olympics.

"Sometimes it's not just about winning, but also about getting a nice performance and leaving something behind," he said. "We gave everything and even though it didn't pay off, we are content, because we enjoyed it."

His breakaway companion Alaphilippe had a somewhat different view. The Frenchman might have thought he'd hit the wall good and proper after his mishap in the wind on the Stage 13 time trial, but he hadn't tried clinging to Martin's wheel for nearly 200km as the German did his best motorbike impression.

"I suffered a lot. You can't even imagine how hard it was," said Alaphilippe.

"I don't know how he does it, but he's really incredible. Tony showed his class and what a huge champion he is, and I have learned a lot from him in this stage."

Alaphilippe wasn't the only rider that Martin outclassed on the day. Martin held off a four-man chase practically on his own - taking time out of them at several points. The peloton also had to work hard to keep 'Der Panzerwagen' in check. Richie Porte (BMC Racing) was not impressed.

"The whole day was just so fast. I think with Tony Martin in the breakaway they weren’t going to give him much. We just rode absolutely flat out all day," said a weary Porte.

In the end, the duo were caught with 20km to go, only netting a joint combativity prize for their near-200km escape. Even so, we're pretty sure that everyone is relieved there's a rest day tomorrow after being put into the hurtbox by one of the peloton's biggest engines.