Tony Martin deals with early season setbacks
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Tony Martin deals with early season setbacks

by Jered Gruber at 8:49 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

After a banner 2009 campaign followed a promising debut season in the ProTour ranks the previous year, it should come as no surprise that Tony Martin is being lauded as the next great German.

His 2009 was awash in success: he took a bronze medal in the World TT Championships, stages at the Bayern Rundfahrt, Criterium International, and Tour de Suisse; he won the Mountains Classification at both the Tour de Suisse and Paris-Nice, and his biggest feat, of course, was an almost two week stint in the Best Young Rider jersey at the Tour de France.

He went into the offseason with big hopes and expectations, steamrolled the winter, and came into the first part of the new year extremely fit and ready to go, but has found nothing but frustration since then.

"It has not gone as I had imagined. I'm still trying to figure out why, because it's not a simple thing to explain."

The main part of his winter was a success, but just as team training camp and the season were set to kick into gear, he fell victim to injury:

"I probably overdid it with the winter training and injured my tendon in the knee. I had to stop for two weeks."

"Before that, I was doing really well, but I had not imagined that it could put me so far back. I am three or four weeks behind my plan."

It's nothing dire at this point, but Martin admits some frustration with his current situation, "Of course it's difficult to maintain morale when you do not know where you stand."

He started well at Paris-Nice when he very nearly took the first road stage. The strong start fizzled, however, and he eventually dropped out on the final day.

As the 'next' great German Grand Tour hope, Martin has had to endure the comparisons with Germany's greatest ever Grand Tour rider, fallen hero Jan Ullrich. While Ullrich was a renowned lover of the finer things in life, Martin has earned a reputation as a hard worker - to a fault. His team sometimes has to put the brakes on him.

"Often I do more than is necessary because I'm a fighter, and that has given me athletic success. I will continue to be [a fighter]."

It's not just the riding either. VeloNation's Conal Andrews already reported on the extreme habits of Martin in mid-January. At that point, his weight was causing some extra attention from team director, Rolf Aldag: “We must be careful that Tony does not lose any more. He currently has the weight he should have in July, when the Tour begins. And the season has not even started!”

The motivation and drive of the still only 24 year old German seems to be getting the better of his body at this point. Martin and his team have taken the setbacks in stride, and now Martin is only concerned with "getting back into shape and regaining the form that I had last season."

Martin is back in action at this week's Volta a Catalunya. He finished a nondescript 64th in the opening 3.6 kilometer time trial, 16 seconds behind surprise winner and fellow German, Paul Voss.


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