Dan Martin over his concussion; says he’s determined to train hard, rejig his programme and be in peak shape for worlds
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Monday, September 2, 2013

Dan Martin over his concussion; says he’s determined to train hard, rejig his programme and be in peak shape for worlds

by Shane Stokes at 6:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Vuelta a España, World Championships, Injury
“I have had a really good run of luck this year. It was about time I got dealt a shit hand”

Dan MartinIrish pro Dan Martin has said that he is recovering well from the concussion that ruled him out of the Vuelta a España and that he remains on course for a strong campaign at the world road race championships later this month.

Martin has remained with the Garmin-Sharp team after his crash, but is expecting to head back to his home in Girona today and to resume training this week. He and the team will then look at rejigging his programme in order to ensure that he has a chance to compete again before the world road race championships on September 29th.

Martin has said that the Tour of Britain could be ideal for that buildup, although he is wary about taking the place of any other rider who was scheduled to take part.

“I am doing fine now. I felt pretty okay Saturday night, but I still wanted to take it easy,” Martin told VeloNation. “Things feel pretty good now.”

He fell heavily with eleven kilometres remaining in Friday’s stage of the Vuelta, scraping the right side of his body and clobbering his head off the ground. “I was pretty close to the front, probably in thirtieth or fortieth position, and I just hit something on the road, either a hole or a rock,” he said.

“I lost my grip while sprinting out of the saddle, and went down really hard. It is not often you go down without having a bit of warning, a bit of time to brake or to prepare yourself, but with this it was like I had fallen out of a tree.”

Martin slowly got back to his feet, got a replacement bike from the team car, but looked dazed. Two team-mates waited for him and they chased, but the bunch was moving far too quickly to be able to rejoin.

As it turned out, the time loss ultimately ended up being irrelevant. “Somehow we only managed to lose a minute and a half. I was in a whole lot of pain on the way back, but the guys rode incredible.

“Once we got to the finish there was just one thing on my mind, to get to the shelter of the team bus. I collapsed onto my seat there, was saying random things and taking my ripped clothes off as fast as I could. I was in complete shock and they ended up having to get ambulance for me…I was shaking pretty violently and hyperventilating a bit.

“I was aware that I had hit my head. That is why I stayed down for a bit. I was a little bit fuzzy headed…but it was more the pain in my hip that I was worried about. Even in the hospital I was pretty sure that I had broken my pelvis or something. So when the x-rays came back all clear, it was very positive.”

Although the team doctor suspected that he had a concussion and might not be able to continue in the race, the team decided to wait and see how Martin was on Saturday morning. He had been dizzy on Friday evening and a test the following morning showed he was not in a condition to continue.

“My balance was initially fine after the crash. But when I woke up the next morning, I tried standing on one leg and pretty much fell over. So that confirmed I had a bit of a concussion.

Moving on from a setback:

Dan MartinAfter taking the Volta a Catalunya and Liège-Bastogne-Liège earlier this year, Martin won a mountain stage in the Tour de France. He was aiming for at least one stage in the Vuelta. Although he didn’t want the pressure of going for the general classification, he told VeloNation before the race that a high overall finish could happen anyway as the course played so well to his strengths as a rider.

Instead, his race was over one week after it began. Martin might be expected to be down about that but, as ever, he accepts things philosophically and moves on.

“It wasn’t difficult at all for me to stop. There was no question of me riding on Saturday. I felt really, really bad. The race was honestly the furthest thing from my mind,” he said, explaining that even looking at his cellphone screen was causing him head pain.

He said that once the symptoms started to wear off, he had some regrets. “I thought, ‘damn, I’m out of the Vuelta.’ I had done the hard bit, the flat stages, and I was just getting into my territory. My form was definitely getting better. I was starting to feel really good and I was very optimistic about what could happen.

“It’s not just that which was a little disappointing. Seeing Nico [his first cousin Nicolas Roche – ed.] in red, it would have been great to ride next to him in the leader’s jersey. But also it is encouraging as well – seeing him being successful makes me believe that I could be really successful in this race as well.

“That is something that we won’t know this year now. I will have to come back again and do the race properly.”

Because of Garmin-Sharp’s no fly policy for those who have suffered a head injury, Martin remained with the team after his withdrawal. That was fortunate as it enabled him to get a peculiar complication from his crash sorted out.

“I didn’t sleep on Saturday night. I had a swelling in my leg from the impact and it impinged a nerve. I basically had a feeling like an electric shock running down my leg. Every ten or twenty seconds my leg would just spasm and kick out. I felt like somebody was stabbing me with a knife in the leg.

“I saw the team physio so she worked it out. It seems okay now, so that’s a relief.”

Martin will likely head back to Girona today, and then return to the bike. “I hope to be able to start back training on Tuesday, knowing that my body is at 100 percent.” After that, he and the Garmin-Sharp will work out his revised programme. “I am not really sure what the team has got planned for me yet. They are going to see how I feel. Things are kind of up in the air at the moment,” he said.

Asked if the Tour of Britain could be an option, Martin said that he thought it would suit well in terms of his goal of being in prime shape for the worlds. “I think that is the only possibility we have got on the race programme. But there are also guys who have had that on their programme all year. So I don’t really want to be the one that puts the hand up and says ‘get out, I want to race.’ I had my opportunity, and we are a team.

“We will see what the team decides, and see how fit and healthy everyone is. If a place comes my way, I’ll definitely be interested in taking it…if I am healthy, of course.

“Obviously dropping out of this race is a blow. I considered the Vuelta to be the perfect preparation,” he continued. “But I am never somebody who looks back. I have no regrets on this race. I couldn’t have done anything about the crash, it just happened.

“I have had a really good run of luck this year. It was about time I got dealt a shit hand. It is my fifth Grand Tour and it is the first time I have actually crashed since the prologue of my first ever Vuelta.

“I’ve had something like 110 days of racing in Grand Tours without crashing. I was due one. You just have to take the good times when they come, and the bad times too.”

Ever the optimist, he sees a possible bright side. “Considering how hard the course is, and looking at how some guys such as Ten Dam, Mollema and Kreuziger are, it seems some guys are tired after the Tour. Maybe the Vuelta is a bit too much to do this year.”

He takes consolation from what happened two years ago. “I seem to remember a certain Mr Cavendish, who pulled out of the Vuelta early on in 2011 [stage four – ed.], and then he went on to do the Tour of Britain and then won the worlds.

“I do think it could be a positive thing. My aim now is to go back home and train harder than ever, all the time thinking about Florence.”


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