Dan Martin interview: ‘My helmet was split in two – I was very, very lucky’
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dan Martin interview: ‘My helmet was split in two – I was very, very lucky’

by Shane Stokes at 5:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Critérium du Dauphiné, Injury
Garmin Barracuda rider details crash and his battle to get through Critérium du Dauphiné

Dan MartinIrish climber Dan Martin has said that he will do everything he can to get to the end of of the Critérium du Dauphiné, even though his injuries from yesterday’s crash mean he couldn’t get out of the saddle today and had difficult feeding himself on the bike.

Martin hit the deck 34 kilometres from the end of the first road race stage, walloping the ground hard and taking some time to get going again. He lost sixteen minutes 39 seconds and dropped another ten minutes 54 seconds today, yet was in surprisingly good spirits this evening, taking the setback in a pragmatic way rather than getting down about what happened.

“The roads are so small here, and there’s so much road furniture. I just misjudged one of the roundabouts,” he told VeloNation, describing how yesterday’s accident unfolded. “I was in the lineout, then looked up and saw the guys were going around it. I just followed the guy in front of me – I was going to stay on his wheel as he went around it, but at the last minute he decided to jump it instead.

“I looked and then suddenly there was a roundabout in front of me. I couldn’t do anything – I clipped the edge of it and almost held the bike up, but then clipped another guy’s wheel. That sent me over the top and into the curb. I hit my head really hard on it, and that is why I stayed down for a bit, just to make sure everything was okay.”

The rumble-tumble of a crash is disorientating enough, without also suffering a blow to the head. Martin waited, got his bearings, then when he felt he could move, tried to sit up. However he had difficultly doing so. “My shoulder was the biggest problem,” he said. “But I knew it wasn’t my collarbone, it was more about the muscles.”

Helped back on his bike, Martin limped into the finish, then began a series of evaluations to try to determine the extent of his injuries. He said that was another ordeal. “We had very, very rough treatment for the French hospital. I was treated like a piece of sh*t,” he said of yesterday evening. Fortunately the scans ruled out fractures and, after sleeping as best he could, was taped up by the Garmin Barracuda officials today and started the stage.

“I guess I am made of pretty tough stuff,” he said. “Nobody could believe today that I was back on the bike and hadn’t broken anything. That is what the x-rays say, at least. We are probably going to get a CT scan when I get home, just to make sure, but I came away very, very lucky. My helmet was split in two.”

Getting back on the bike today was one difficulty, but having to race 160 kilometres was also a big test. Martin said that his arm was giving him a lot of problems. “Today I was having difficult even drinking and eating, because I have no strength in my right arm to hold myself up,” he said. “But the main issue is jumping out of corners…I can’t really get out of the saddle. I am having to do in-the-saddle sprints all the time. Fortunately there were some long climbs and you can get into a rhythm.”

Martin stuck with the peloton as long as he could, but eventually got into difficulty and drifted back, losing time from there until the finish.

“Sep Vanmarcke really helped me today,” he continued, sounding grateful. “He stayed with me all day and got me around. The team in general is doing a great job…we have the chiro here, the team doctor and I am getting the best care possible. It really means a lot. They will try to get me through until Sunday, but at the moment we are just thinking about tomorrow.”

Is Tour de France debut threatened?

Martin has been with the Garmin-Barracuda team setup for the past four and a half years. He went close to riding the Tour de France in 2009, but a knee problem led to him pulling out of the team days before the start. Last year Jonathan Vaughters opted for other riders and Martin targeted the Vuelta a Espana instead; he won a stage, and finished a very solid thirteenth overall.

That display plus his performances this year [fourth in the Volta a Catalunya, fifth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and sixth in Flèche Wallonne – ed.] have pushed him into the frame for Tour selection, with Vaughters saying in recent weeks that there was a good chance he’d make his debut this year.

The crash is obviously not ideal, though, with his chance to put in a strong showing in the Dauphiné likely up in smoke. However he said he’s not going to obsess over things.

“I am not really thinking about it,” he said, when asked how this could affect his selection. “I just came into this race to do my best, as I always do. This is just a minor down thing. For sure this will affect my condition, but we will have to decide that closer to the start of the Tour. I am just going to concentrate on getting healthy for now.”

One plus is that his performances this year and last year make it clear what he can do when he’s on form. Even if he starts the Tour at less than one hundred percent, Vaughters knows that he should be good asset in the mountains. He should settle in as the race continues, and the absence of a team time trial means that he’d have time to do so without hampering the squad’s performance. All this will be considered in due time, though.

Back to the crash itself; was this the worst crash of his career? “Us cyclists have an incredibly short memory,” he said in response, laughing. “Every crash you have, the next one is always the worst. The pain seems to fade with time.

“I felt really bad about this because it was my fault, and they are not very often my own fault. It is probably the luckiest crash I have had. I came away comparatively unscathed. I have got a bit of whiplash happening now, that is something that I didn’t have last night. I am not sure how I will wake up tomorrow morning, my neck is really quite sore at the moment. But we’ll see. The plan now is to take things day by day, but I’ll definitely try to get through the race.”


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