Dan Martin crashes on stage nine of Tour de France, slips to sixth overall
‘I had nowhere to go. I was very, very lucky to come away as lightly as I did, I think’
Daniel Martin of Ireland and team Quick-Step Floors in action during stage nine of Le Tour de France 2017, a 182km stage between Nantua and Chambery. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Ireland’s Dan Martin went close to disaster on Sunday’s ninth stage of the Tour de France, crashing heavily when one of the big pre-race favourites Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) lost control of his bike on the descent off the day’s final climb, clattered across the road in front of Martin and brought him down.
“I don’t think anybody wants to take risks down there,” Martin said afterwards, referring to what was a dangerous descent off the Mont du Chat. “But it was so slippery under the trees. Richie just locked up his back wheel, went straight onto the grass, wiped out and then his bike just collected me.
“I had nowhere to go. I was very, very lucky to come away as lightly as I did, I think.”
Martin was cut and his helmet was cracked but, fortunately, there was no worse damage. His front wheel was broken and he got a spare from neutral support. However his brakes didn’t work properly with his new wheel and he couldn’t slow down sufficiently to take the next bend. He ran wide and hit a wall but, again, wasn’t badly hurt.
He then changed bikes and rode hard to catch the group in front of him, eventually coming home ninth, just one minute and 15 seconds behind the front group containing Froome and led in by Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac).
Martin is a known fast finisher from a select group and has won several races in similar circumstances. He may well have won the stage had he not crashed; equally significantly, he would have moved up a place to third overall as the rider who had been second, Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) had crashed out earlier in the stage.
Instead, Martin drops to sixth. He had been 25 seconds off Froome’s yellow jersey but now finds himself a further one minute 19 seconds back, and through no fault of his own.
Still, he was able to see the upside. “Remarkably. I seem to bounce pretty well,” he said, smiling. “Somebody was looking after me today for sure.”
Fortunately for Martin, the race has its first rest day on Monday. This will give him a chance to get over the fall and to be ready for when racing resumes on Tuesday. He will be psyched to try to make up lost time, while first cousin Nicolas Roche will have greater freedom after team leader Porte’s withdrawal. He will likely hunt for stage wins; Martin will do the same, but also keep aiming for a podium finish in Paris.
That task is looking more difficult than before, but he won’t give up.