Tony Martin said he takes personal satisfaction in delivering victory at the Tour of Beijing last weekend in what was HTC-Highroad’s final stage race.
The team is dismantling at the end of the season when a new title sponsor could not be secured for next year. Martin, who joined Highroad in 2008, said the Beijing victory is a perfect sendoff for the team.
“For sure it’s a special feeling to win here. The team was fighting really hard for me the whole week, it’s a victory for the whole team. It makes me really proud to race with these guys,” he told VeloNews. “It’s all about the team spirit. We always fought for each other. When one rider won, everyone won. It was a team strength that not many teams have.”
Martin won the opening time trial in Beijing in his first race in the rainbow jersey to win by 17 seconds to David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo). Sky’s Chris Froome, who rounded out the podium with third, attacked in the four-climb third stage, but could only take back one second on GC as HTC-Highroad worked to control the aggression.
The 26-year-old Martin is set to join Omega Pharma-Quick-Step next season, but said he hopes to bring some of the lessons he learned at HTC-Highroad to his new squad.
“I hope we can transfer this spirit to Omega-Quick-Step. For sure, it will take some time. It’s also my job as a team captain to bring this spirit to a new team. I will try,” he said. “It’s a young team we have next year. The team wants to grow now. There’s a really good chance to create a special team. Maybe it will take some time, we will keep on working hard on it.”
Martin will race the Chrono des Nations in France on October 16 to close out a breakthrough 2011 season that included three stage-race victories (Algarve, Paris-Nice and Beijing), stage wins at the Tour de France and Vuelta a España and the world time trial crown for a season haul of 11 victories.
“It was a dream season for me this year. I have a lot of victories, something that’s not normal unless you’re a sprinter,” he said. “It’s a perfect season for me and I am really happy. Now the level is very high and I have to keep on working hard to keep it there.”
His performance in Beijing only reconfirmed what he says will be his future. After trying to ride the GC in grand tours without much success (his best result was 35th at the 2009 Tour), Martin says he will remain focused on time trials and shorter stage races that include a race against the clock.
“After this victory, it shows again I can win these smaller stage races,” he said. “For me, it makes no sense to ride for 12th place in the Tour when I lose my power to win these smaller races. I prefer to be here in the front than to be 10th or 12th in a grand tour.”
For 2012, Martin says he hopes he can repeat the success he’s had this season, with a shot at the time trial Olympic gold medal thrown into the mix for the London Summer Games.