Dan Martin Diary – Final day: When I look back there were really many good memories
My stage win was an obvious highlight but racing in Corsica and Nice too will linger long in the memory as will the support of the Irish fans on Irish Corner Ten
Dan Martin crosses the finish line ahead of Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark, rear, to win the ninth stage of the Tour de France. from Saint-Girons to n Bagneres-de-Bigorre in the Pyrenees. Photo: Laurent Rebours/AP)
The Tour de France ended in twilight on Sunday evening in front of thousands of fans but before then, on Saturday, we had the final mountain stage of the race. For those aiming to get to Paris, it was the last big obstacle, with some hard climbs to cover as well as the first category ascent up to the finish line at Annecy Semnoz.
That final climb was a beautiful one and was one that would normally have suited me really well. I was still sick, though, and was simply trying to get to the finish. I was a little upset that I wasn’t in a position to race up it, but that’s how things are. Instead, I rode up with the Sky riders Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Peter Kennaugh. I have known them a long, long time, and was able to congratulate them on the incredible job that they have done in helping Chris Froome win the race.
It was kind of funny that we were all finishing a stage of the Tour de France at the same time, side by side, as years ago we all raced as juniors together. In fact, myself, Stannard and Geraint did the Junior Tour of Ireland on the same team when Ian won the race.
At the time I was part of the British national squad, but declared for Ireland after that.
It’s been a decision that I’ve been very happy with. My mother is from Ireland, of course, and the passion of the Irish supporters has really been brought home to me on this race. The support has really been something else.
There were more of them at the start on Saturday and it was a big morale boost, particularly as the virus I had made me feel really rough.
The illness has kind of defined the last week of my race but when I look back, there were many really good memories. The first one is from the team presentation. While it’s always fantastic to start the Tour de France, we really got an incredible reaction in Corsica. The island was also really stunning, so overall that was a great experience.
The second memory comes from the team time trial. It wasn’t enjoyable at the time because I was incredibly nervous, but riding to fourth place with my Garmin-Sharp team is a bit of a standout.
We didn’t get the result we wanted, with the win eluding us, yet being part of such a fast, tightly-knit formation was something special. There was also an amazing atmosphere with the huge crowds in Nice; I’ll remember that a long time.