Mixed feelings for Daniel Martin with Lombardia runner-up slot
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mixed feelings for Daniel Martin with Lombardia runner-up slot

by Shane Stokes at 4:10 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Fall Classics, Giro di Lombardia
Best Irish Classics performance in two decades nets ninth in UCI WorldTour rankings

Dan MartinDaniel Martin secured the best Irish Classics performance since Sean Kelly won the 1992 Milan-Sanremo, with today's runner-up slot in the Giro di Lombardia showing that he is now a bona fide challenger for some of the toughest one day events.

Already proven as a stage race contender, thanks to his win in last year’s Tour of Poland and his 13th overall in this year’s Vuelta, his ride to Lecco was bettered only by Leopard Trek’s Oliver Zaugg.

The Swiss broke clear on the final climb of Villa Vergano, taking the main contenders by surprise but also showing a lot of strength. Martin and the others tried to react but the 30 year old was clearly on another level and reached the top well clear. He continued on well to the finish, reaching the line eight seconds ahead of five chasers.

Martin was the quickest of these in the sprint, the Garmin-Cervélo rider easily taking second place ahead of the 2010 WorldTour winner Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha).

Afterwards, he was left relishing the result but also thinking about what might have been. “I’ve got real mixed emotions, to be honest,” he told VeloNation. “Getting second in a monument is something, but to come so close…you could also say if we caught the guy [Zaugg], maybe I would have won the sprint.

“Then again, I am kind of surprised I was in the situation in the first place to be so strong in the final, as the last couple of weeks have been really hard. I haven’t been able to train so much as I have been so tired. I have been sleeping a lot and waking up tired…the batteries are pretty flat now.”

Martin’s fatigue stems from keeping strong form for many weeks now. He took a stage and was second overall in the Tour of Poland in early August, won a stage and placed 13th in the Vuelta a España, and was also third in the recent Memorial Marco Pantani. The 25 year old has been competing at a high level for a long time, and a rest is long overdue.

He said that everything went to plan, both before and during the race. “The team was fantastic, it really supported me this week. I spent the whole week in Lecco, pre-riding the course and getting a good massage every day,” he explained. “There was a really relaxed atmosphere to be able to start the race as fresh as possible.

“The guys were fantastic in the race. We rode it perfectly as well…we had Van Summeren in the first group, then Christophe [Le Mevel] going in the group that went after the descent of the Colma di Sermano. Then I could get a result at the finish.”

Martin crossed the line visibly frustrated, shaking his head in taking second. It’s a superb result, but it’s not the same as standing on top of the podium and spraying the champagne. However he doesn’t have regrets, feeling that he did everything right today.

“I’m quite proud of how it went, even if I didn’t win,” he said. “I think I rode a really good race, in that I didn’t waste any energy at any point. Everything seemed to go my way at the right time.

“I just didn’t have the legs to follow Oliver on the final climb. All five of us were fully committed to try to catch him at the finish, but he was just too strong for us. He did a really impressive ride, so congratulations to him.”

Strong ranking result:

Martin’s runner-up slot handed him a bundle of UCI WorldTour points and saw him jump from nineteenth to ninth. He’s just three points off the eighth place of Bradley Wiggins, who clocked up strong points when he won the Critérium du Dauphiné and was third in the Vuelta.

Dan MartinFinishing in the top ten is the best-ever result by an Irishman in tdhe WorldTour series, and also helped his Garmin-Cervélo team to take a solid sixth and Ireland to end the year 13th overall in the countries ranking. He’s pleased with the result, while also keeping level-headed about everything.

“It’s good in that it shows a massive improvement, it shows that I am getting better and better every year, bit by bit,” he said. “But it is not something I was thinking about [this season], it was all about the race results. I think I am quite fortunate as the WorldTour rankings suit my characteristics, as far as hilly one day races and one week stage races go. It is something we can shoot for in the future.

“To be top ten in the world at the end of the year – especially with the problems I had with allergies at the start of the year and didn’t get a lot of points – is exciting for the future.”

Martin has been racing since early in the season and is looking forward to taking some time to relax. Today was his final race of 2011, but he has more commitments in the days ahead. He’ll attend the Giro d’Italia presentation tomorrow, then the Tour de France presentation on Tuesday. After that, he’ll fly to Ireland and attend a Garmin function at the Chain Reaction Cycles store in Belfast on Saturday. That will also entail a group ride with supporters, who he said that he is looking forward to meting. “Hopefully a lot of people can turn up…it will be great to see everyone, especially after the year I have had.”

Once that’s done, it’s time to fully relax. “I’ll take a very well-deserved break then…a long one!” he said, relishing the thought. “I will go to South Africa for the wedding of one of my best friends…it is exciting.”

So too his progress, which will give him plenty of motivation when he returns to his bike after the trip. It’s too soon to think of 2012 now, but if he recovers well and then continues his momentum, a big, big season lies ahead.


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