Tour de France
Froome waiting to pounce
Chris Froome (Getty Images)
Saint-Malo - Germany's reigning world champion Tony Martin is expected to dominate the first big time trial of the 100th Tour de France, but race leader Chris Froome is waiting to pounce.
Martin, a two-time world champion in the discipline, has been to hell and back on the race so far having survived atrocious injuries from a crash on the first stage to continue for his Omega-Pharma team.
For Scot David Millar, there will be only one winner of Wednesday's 33-kilometre race against the clock from Avranches to Mont-Saint-Michel.
"I think Tony Martin's going to kill it, to be honest.
"He's just on a different level," Millar said on Tuesday.
"I'll give it my best shot, but my objectives here are more team-orientated so I don't have any real expectations to be honest."
As far as expectations go, Martin is unequivocal.
"He expects to win and says he will be disappointed if he doesn't.
"I'm feeling good and I expect to win tomorrow.
"If I don't, I will be really disappointed," said the German, who lost swathes of skin off his back, legs, arms and buttocks on the opening day crash.
One injury in particular, a deep cut above his elbow, was so bad that reporters could see the muscle due to the absence of skin.
Instead of stitching up the injury, doctors have used a special cream due to fears that stitching could lead to infection.
While a win for Martin would help boost the Omega-Pharma team a day after teammate Mark Cavendish came only third on stage 10's bunch sprint, other teams are looking nervously at Sky.
Froome left several yellow jersey rivals behind on his way to a solo victory atop Ax-Trois-Domaines on Saturday, prompting an angry response a day later.
Sky were attacked by several teams in the peloton and after his main mountain helper Richie Porte was dropped, Froome was left isolated before eventually coming over the finish with his lead intact.
In the race of truth, it's man against man and Froome should be in contention for the win. The same cannot be said for second-placed Alejandro Valverde, who's 1min 25sec adrift, or Cadel Evans, 16th at 4:36.
Spain's Alberto Contador, also known as a formidable time triallist but who has been under par this year, will saddle up more in hope than expectation that he will not lose too much time to the Kenyan-born Briton who leads the race.
"I would prefer to be where Froome is, especially before the time trial, which will favour him," the Spaniard, who is sixth at 1:51, admitted on Monday.
Froome believes Martin will "probably do a great time trial", but said he is focusing solely on his own performance.
"The time trial will be a good opportunity for the general classification.
"I will hope to keep the advantage I have already," he said.
"At this point I can't really look at the other guys.
"Then, from tomorrow evening we'll look at the results and evaluate from there.
"But I hope to extend my lead on the general classification."