Dan Martin video interview part I: Garmin-Sharp leader speaks at length about best ever year, concussion issues and more
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Dan Martin video interview part I: Garmin-Sharp leader speaks at length about best ever year, concussion issues and more

by Shane Stokes at 6:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Video
Irishman increasingly confident after Liège, Catalunya and Tour de France success

Dan MartinLooking back at the highs and lows of his 2013 season, Dan Martin has spoken in detail for the first time about the effects of the concussion he suffered at the Vuelta a España, saying that the blow to the head he suffered caused serious sleep disturbances and considerable stress.

“I still don’t know what I hit [in terms of the cause of the crash – ed.],” he told VeloNation in a long video interview conducted recently, and published below. “I was moving up on the outside [of the bunch] and just lost my hands off the bars. I hit the road harder than I have ever hit it before.

“It felt like I had fallen out of a tree or something.”

Martin’s crash occurred eleven kilometres from the end of stage seven, with the rider tumbling to the ground and being delayed. He remounted and was able to reach the finish, but was pulled out of the race prior to the start of stage eight due to the concussion he had suffered.

“It was…not a long road to recovery, but it was quite a scary time,” he said, talking about what he went through after his accident. “I pretty much forgot how to sleep properly. I had a week or so where I didn’t really get much sleep, and the first two or three days I didn’t sleep at all.”

Insomnia is a stressful experience in itself, but the cause of the problem plus the extent he suffered from it led to extra worry and pressure for Martin. “I was getting to a stage of fatigue where I was just desperate to sleep, and I was almost panicking…how was I going to sleep? Then when I did fall asleep, I would wake up after an hour.

“It was a rough period. The skin loss was obviously documented, but that heals quickly…you don’t know when your head is going to heal. I was very fortunate that it came around quickly and I was able to get back into racing at the Tour of Britain and get together some form again somehow for the worlds and Lombardia and Beijing.”

Martin went on to compete in the road race championships in Florence, but unfortunately crashed out in the torrential conditions. He also fell in Il Lombardia while in the running for third place, although his spill on the final corner wasn’t too serious and he was able to pick up fourth.

Looking back now at the concussion and the complications he caused, he’s able to be philosophical about it. “It was a new experience for me, again…this year has been full of new experiences. Whether they are bad or good experiences, you always learn, you always take something from them. And that is important.”

While the end of the season was disrupted, notwithstanding his strong ride in Lombardia and second overall in Beijing, he can be more than satisfied with the overall achievements. He won the Volta a Catalunya in April, becoming the first Irishman to do so since Sean Kelly in 1986, and then went on to emulate the former world number one by also winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

He was the strongest rider in the finale there, attacking Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) on the last climb and hitting the line alone.

Unsurprisingly, that remains one of his most vivid memories of the season. “At the moment the enormity of what I was about to achieve was going to hit me, when I looked behind and saw that Joaquin couldn’t follow me,” he recollected. “I had a couple of seconds of realisation – an amazing moment and definitely something I will look back on for the rest of my career.”

His Tour de France stage win 77 days later was another highlight, being his first victory in the world’s biggest race. It followed on from his 2011 stage win in the Vuelta a España, and was the first such Irish success since Stephen Roche’s stage victory 21 years earlier.

“We pinpointed that day from the start in Corsica. We promised to cause chaos on one day, and that was they day we’d chosen,” he said. “I think it worked and I think people would see that as being one of the most exciting days of racing of the year.

“To be able to come out with victory was… again I didn’t really realise what was going on, I was so focused on the task at hand, and then crossing the line with my arms in the air and I’m looking down on all the staff, all the media waiting. It was a great day, a great moment.”

Martin became ill towards the end of the race and slipped outside the top ten, but is convinced that he can be an overall contender in the future. He was good enough for long enough to take a positive conclusion from the Tour and will head back to the event in future years with more confidence.

“I think the biggest thing about it, the biggest Tour highlight for me was the concentration and psychological strength I showed during the whole race. It was the first time I’ve really been able to stay focused and concentrated every kilometre of every stage for the whole of nearly three weeks, until I got sick.

“I was entering into the last three or four days feeling relatively fresh mentally and physically. It was the first time I’ve really seen that I was capable of performing at a high level in a Grand Tour. That’s what’s really driving me on to believe I can be as successful in the Grand Tours in the future.”

Martin was recently back in Ireland, spending several days there in order to receive the rider of the year award at Cycling Ireland’s annual prizegiving, to present a large cheque to Temple Street Children’s Hospital as part of the Cycle4Life charity he is a patron of, and also to unwind with his grandparents and others.

He speaks about a range of topics in the video above, including the ups and downs of his 2013 season, his outlook and state of mind heading towards 2014, his work with Cycle4Life and the Ryder Hesjedal situation.

See also: Dan Martin video interview part II: Targeting GC in the Giro could mean missing the Tour


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