Martin overcomes past disappointment to earn Tour de France starting place
CYCLING:HAVING WON a stage and finished 13th overall in last year’s Vuelta a España, Irish climber Dan Martin will finally get the chance to make his Tour de France debut this year after being selected by the Garmin-Barracuda team.
Martin was due to start the race three years ago but suffered a knee injury days before the start. He was passed over for selection in the two following years, but his 2011 Vuelta performance proved to his team he was ready.
“Last year I didn’t think Dan was ready for the Tour and he was a little bit upset by that,” team manager Jonathan Vaughters told The Irish Times yesterday.
“So I said to him, ‘Dan, if you go to the Vuelta and you can show me you can be stable and consistent for three weeks, then I will take you to the Tour de France next year.
“He did that; while he lost time in the time trials, he was right there in every single mountain stage of the Vuelta. So I’m making good on my promise to him.”
Vaughters believes Martin can win a mountain stage. The King of the Mountains jersey may also be a target.
His selection means Ireland will have two riders in the Tour peloton for the first time in two decades. He will line out alongside his first cousin Nicolas Roche, who returns to the race as leader of the Ag2r La Mondiale team. Roche finished 10th overall last weekend in the Tour de Suisse
While Martin won’t take part in this Sunday’s elite national road race championships, Roche has travelled to Clonmel to target a second career win there.
He rode the time trial last night, but had to be content with third behind Michael Hutchinson and future Olympian Martyn Irvine.
American-based Olivia Dillon triumphed in the women’s test, beating Melanie Spath and Siobhán Horgan.
The championships continue tomorrow with the veterans’ road race and the women’s event.
Sunday’s elite and under-23 contest will see Roche, Irvine, Brammeier, David McCann and An Post Grant Thornton Sean Kelly riders Sam Bennett, Ronan McLaughlin, Connor McConvey and Seán Downey amongst those duking it out for gold.
Fixtures: Friday: Strabane criterium, starts at 7pm; Midsummer race, Westport, 7pm Saturday: Veterans road race championships, Clonmel. Starts 11am; women’s road race championships starts 2pm. Sunday: Elite and under-23 road race championships, Clonmel. Starts noon.