Sylvain Chavanel and Tony Martin shined in the 53.5km time trial, from Villie-Morgon to Bourg-en-Bresse on Thursday.
Martin, riding with a 58x11, was unfazed by the strong winds throughout the course. He finished with a time of 1:03.53. The only rider to best him was Bradley Wiggins (Sky ProCycling), who was ahead of Martin in the leader's jersey by 4" going into the ITT. He beat Martin by 34" to stay in yellow and win the time trial. Chavanel, meanwhile, placed 5th (+1'33"). Michael Rogers (Sky ProCycling) was 3rd, 1'11" back.
"Today I had no super legs," Martin said. "It took a while to get into the rhythm of the race. At the beginning I wasn't really concentrated, but I got better. I know when and why I lost, so it is OK for me. Bradley did a great race. As for me, maybe today I was a little bit tired. I did a lot of training for the Tour of Belgium, and a lot of training after the race to prepare for the Tour de France."
Chavanel had the fastest time at the 18km point by 04", which was 11" faster than Wiggins and 04" faster than Martin. It was the second checkpoint, at 40km, where Wiggins gained his advantage. He bested Martin by 34" at the checkpoint, and Chavanel by 01'05".
"I am really happy about this performance," Chavanel said. "This stage was really a time trial for the specialists, so the fact that I am there amongst the best of the peloton is a good sign for me. It means that I've worked a lot and am going in the right direction. I am now looking forward to the next races with more ambitions. The time trial national championship will be an objective. I was good. I was not 100 percent concentrated for the first part of the race. I lost immediately my bottle, so it was not so easy. I started thinking about it, and lost a little concentration. but at the end it was a good result. I am happy. Everyone knows I like time trials and I like these kinds of races. Now that I've solved my back problems, and have no pain anymore, I can really train on my time trial bike."
Tomorrow, Martin and Chavanel will take their GC battle to the mountains. The 186.5km stage features a Cat 2, HC, and Cat 3 climb and will likely be a test for Wiggins and all of the contenders.