Lenny Martinez wins shortened CIC - Mont Ventoux

Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) won the CIC-Mont Ventoux 2023
Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) won the CIC-Mont Ventoux 2023 (Image credit: Dario BelingheriGetty Images)

Promising young French professional Lenny Martinez (Groupama-FDJ) has won a six-rider uphill sprint to clinch the reduced-length CIC - Mont Ventoux one-day race.

Martínez outsprinted Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech) after the two dived into the final right-hand bend and ramp to the finish just ahead of the remainder of the breakaway. Simon Carr (EF-Education EasyPost) claimed third.

The race was reduced to just one ascent of the Ventoux, rather than the planned two, because of bad weather, and was cut to just 98.3km in length as a result.

Aged just 19, Martinez has claimed the first win of his pro career at the CIC - Mont Ventoux. Israel-Premier Tech controlled the final breakaway group with Domenico Pozzovivo working for teammate Woods, but Martinez was the fastest at the summit with an acceleration in the final metres.

How it unfolded

With the race getting underway on the much-shortened route, an attack just before the first challenge of the day, the Col de la Madeleine, as five riders went clear.

The move contained Pablo Castrillo (Kern Pharma), Valentin Retailleau (AG2R-Citroën), José María García (Electro-Hiper-Europa), Asier Etxebarria (Euskatel-Euskadi) and Léo Danès (CIC-U Nantes Atlantique). The quintet opened up a gap on the much longer, tougher Col de la Gabelle that followed, and by its foot, roughly at the halfway point, had a margin of 2:24 over the peloton.

Meanwhile, Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech) had some mechanical difficulties, finally fighting his way back towards the peloton with the support of teammate Steve Williams.

On the climb preceding the Ventoux, the Rocher du Cire, García was dropped from the break, but even as the four approached the foot of the final climb, the gap was shrinking rapidly as first Groupama-FDJ and then Movistar drove behind.

After just a kilometre of the 24 on the Ventoux, the break's gap had shrunk to under a minute and as the peloton shrank to around 50 riders on its incessantly rising middle section, only Castrillo remained out front.

With 5km to go on the steepest part of the ascent, Castrillo was finally reeled in, sparking attacks in the much-reduced peloton. Cristian Rodríguez (Arkéa-Samsic) finally worked his way clear with Lenny Martinez, Michael Woods, and Ivan Sosa (Movistar), and the five were joined by Carr shortly afterwards.

With Sosa struggling in the last 2km, and Woods repeatedly testing the break, the five had a gap of just a few seconds on a group of six chasers as they headed past the Tom Simpson Memorial.

Domenico Pozzovivo was able to bridge the gap, head to the front, and ensure that the group remained fractionally ahead of the closest pursuers before dropping away late on. When the leaders reached the final corner leading up to the observation tower and finish, Martinez and Woods pushed on to gain a few metres margin.

It briefly looked as if Woods would take Israel-Premier Tech's second win of the season. But instead, Martinez romped past in the final metres to take a notable first victory for the young Frenchman on one of his country's most prestigious and dauntingly difficult climbs.


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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.

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