Martin posts best provisional Tour time trial
ARC-ET-SENANS, France (AP) -- World champion Tony Martin posted the best provisional time in the first long time trial of this year's Tour de France.
Martin clocked 53 minutes, 40 seconds in sunny and dry conditions over Monday's mostly flat 25.8-mile ninth stage between Arc-et-Senans and Besancon in the eastern Doubs region.
The German excels in the race against the clock and won the gold medal in the time trial at the world championships last year.
Riders start in the reverse order of the general classification.
Overall leader Bradley Wiggins of Britain will be the last of the 178 riders still in the race to set off, three minutes after defending Tour champion Cadel Evans.
Wiggins leads Evans by 10 seconds in the overall standings and is expected to gain more time on his Australian rival.
The last time Evans and Wiggins competed in the same time trial was at the Criterium du Dauphine last month. Wiggins finished 1:43 faster than Evans over the 33.2-mile course.
Martin broke the scaphoid bone of his left hand during the first stage of the Tour. A puncture dashed his hopes of winning the prologue.
Despite the injury, Martin decided to stay in the race to focus on a possible win in the time trial. Riding with a plastic cast, Martin covered the course at an average speed of 28.8 mph, beating Lieuwe Westra of the Netherlands by 29 seconds.
Martin's main objective this year is winning the time trial at the London Olympics on Aug. 1.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)