Elevated expectations for Dan Martin after Tour de France

Irishman finished in a best ever sixth place, competing better than many had expected

Dan Martin of Ireland and QuickStep Floors climbs the Col d’Izoard on stage eighteen of the 2017 Tour de France. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Dan Martin of Ireland and QuickStep Floors climbs the Col d’Izoard on stage eighteen of the 2017 Tour de France. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

 

Dan Martin clocked up his best-ever finish in the Tour de France on Sunday, finishing sixth overall when the race crossed the finish line in Paris. Thirty years after his uncle Stephen Roche won the race, he showed that he too is a genuine contender, and will leave the event on a confidence high.

He took a total of eight top-10 finishes, including second and third on stages, and may well have won stage nine had he not been brought down when one of the big pre-race favourites Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) fell in his path on a steep descent.

Martin too hit the ground and suffered a time delay that ruled him out of a stage which was perfectly suited to his characteristics. More seriously, it left him with injuries which hampered him for several days and cost him over a minute in lost time.

He fought back from that, chipping away at his time deficit where possible and showing he was one of the most aggressive riders in the race. He continued that attacking theme in the final week, being one of the few riders to consistently take the fight to Chris Froome and his Sky team.

Martin earned plenty of praise for this and also showed that he has no fear of taking on the biggest names in the sport.

Speaking in the final days of the race, he told The Irish Times that he firmly believes he can return next year as a major favourite. He noted that few people saw him as a podium contender beforehand, but that their perceptions of him have changed over the course of the three weeks.

At 30 years of age, he believes he can continue to make progress and that the final yellow jersey is a realistic goal for the future.

He ultimately finished four minutes and 42 seconds behind Froome, but knows that without his crash he would have been in a much better position. He also had to take an all or nothing approach in the final week in a bid to get onto the podium and, with Team Sky being surprisingly keen to keep tabs on him, that ultimately did not pay off.

His aggression, the related fatigue and their marking meant that he lost more time. Still, notwithstanding that, he said that he was pleased with how he rode and that it would stand to him in the long term.

“I raced the way I want to race,” he said, “and have learned a lot for the future.”

He has previously shone in the Vuelta a España, winning a stage and finishing seventh overall in the past. Several riders who contested the Tour will head to the Spanish event trying to chase overall success, including Froome, but Martin laughed off such a suggestion.

“I am definitely not doing the Vuelta,” he said with certainly. “Definitely not.” Instead, he will take a more measured approach to the final part of the season, then begin building up towards what he hopes will be his best season yet in 2018.

First cousin Nicolas Roche started the Tour as a support rider for Porte, but got a chance to go for his own chances on stage eight. He finished a fine fourth at Station des Rousses and was sixth on stage 15.

The Vuelta a España is his favourite race and while his BMC Racing Team is yet to announce his programme for the weeks ahead, he will likely be pushing for a place in that event.

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