Vuelta a Espana

Guillaume Martin climbing to glory in the Vuelta a España

Martin has been in no less than five major breakaways during this year’s Vuelta, and commands the KOM jersey, but has yet to win a much-coveted stage.

Cycling is often a game of situational objectives, something which French cyclist Guillaume Martin learned quickly this year at the Vuelta a España. The 27-year-old Frenchman came here with his eye on a good overall placing as well as a stage win. But after getting caught behind a major split on stage two and losing nearly 10 minutes, any GC goals were immediately erased.

But while Martin, who has written books and plays on philosophy, is considered one of the peloton’s true intellectuals, when it comes to bike racing, he doesn’t overthink things. And he responded to the initial setback simply by going on the attack, day in and day out.

Martin has been in no less than five major breakaways during this year’s Vuelta, and while he has yet to win a much-coveted stage, he is now clearly in the driver’s seat when it comes to the king of the mountains award. “My way of riding until now has been to be calm in the early parts of the stages and preparing for the decisive moment,” the Frenchman told the Spanish sports daily AS earlier in the week. “But in this Vuelta, I am competing in a different way…and I love it!”

And now, as the Vuelta enters its final weekend, Martin has a commanding lead in the king of the mountain category with 89 points — 55 points ahead of his closest rival, Richard Carapaz, who is focused more on the overall race lead.

But for Martin, there is a certain poetic justice in the white and blue polka dot prize as his Cofidis team has won it mountain competition no less than five times since 2008. “This jersey is the specialty of Cofidis, my teammate Nicolas Edet has already won it and David Moncoutié finished with it four times,” he said while speaking with the French television here at the Vuelta. In the history of the event, only José Luis Laguía has won the award five times. And it is a tradition that Martin is only too happy to continue.

While Martin more than pleased to bring home this prestigious prize, he still has hopes of capturing a stage. “There is still ground to be aggressive and so we will continue, the important thing is that we see Cofidis very active every day,” the Frenchman said. “I’m not going to stop riding offensively And I still have yet to win a stage.”

Indeed, when it comes to winning a stage, he does not see it as mutually exclusive to the king of the mountains prize. “Why choose between a stage win and the mountains jersey if you can achieve both?”