Tag Archives: Dan Martin

The cross winds arrive and Dan Martin’s GC hope get blown away as Quick Step drop the ball

Cross-winds for echelons and split the race late (Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

If I told you before the stage to name me one team that would thrive today in cross winds, who would it be? My guess is you would name either Lotto Soudal or Quick-Step. And that would be my pick too. Yet, when the winds blew and the gaps began to form, Quick-Step where missing.

Dan Martin, their best placed rider on the general classification (5th at 1’12”) was left exposed. A climber by nature he isn’t built for this and needed his team more than ever. Heck, they have been absent in the high mountains so now seemed like a good time to show up for him. But where was Quick-Step? Philippe Gilbert didn’t start the stage citing illness, but the rest were off the back. Way off the back. Protecting the green jersey of Marcel Kittel instead. Continue reading The cross winds arrive and Dan Martin’s GC hope get blown away as Quick Step drop the ball

Majka to the Tinkoff-Saxo rescue once again

Stage 11: Pau > Cauterets, 188km

I wonder what was going through the head of Dan Martin as he realised that the most recent move to go off the front of the peloton was looking like the winning one. He had clearly targed this stage when he coasted in 11’34” behind the Yellow jersey of Chris Froome the day before, but now it looked like he’d missed the move.

Many a rider would have accepted such defeat and waited for another day, but not Martin. He ju,ped out of the peloton and charged up the Col d’Aspin after them. He had more than two minutes to make up but 3 kilometres from the summit, he had caught them. A fantastic chase and he was back in with a shout for the stage he wanted along with six other protagonists.

They stayed together on the descent but it was always the out of category rated Col du Tourmalet that would break the group apart and leaving a smaller selection to decide the race the final climb to Cauterets, a third category climb.

Martin was celarly tired from his chase however, and hadn’t fully recovered on the descent of the Aspin and the most noted climber in the group, Rafal Majka – two time stage winner in 2014 and winner of the King of the Mountains competition – senced his opportunity to help with his second annual rescue bid of the Tinkoff-Saxo Tour now that it seemed Contador’s bid to win it was fading. With 7km to go to the top he forced the issue and nobody could react. They could only hope he had gone too soon.

It was Majka then who crossed the highest peak of the Pyrenees to win the Jacques Goddet prize and €5000 thank you very much. And it was clearly starting to look like the winning move for he had put 1’45” into the chasing Serge Pauwels with Dan Martin struggling at 2’05”.

Behind things were gradually heating up in the peloton with Astana forcing the issue and the bunch quickly reduced to just 15 men. It was clear however that anyone willing to put Froome into any kind of trouble would need to go on the Tourmalet rather than the Cote de Cauterets, but none seemed willing or able and they went over together 5’40” behind Majka and led by the Yellow jersey of Froome.

With the peloton looking like a non-factor on the stage, Majka charged down the Tourmalet and though he lost some time to the men behind he still carried a minutes lead over Pauwels onto the final run up to the finish.

By now though, Martin was starting to come around. Recoving from his earlier effort to get across to the now fractured group, he looked the freshest of the lot. He caught and passed Pauwels with 5km to go and went after Majka, but the Pole was far from slowing and distance to the line was running out. Majka stayed away and took his third career Tour de France win. This time last year he lost a lot of time in the early part of the Tour allowing him to make such moves and was given the freedom to do so once Contador crashed out. Contador is still in the race, but clearly his team realise that stage wins are now more likely than GC glory and so Majka is once again off the leash. Once more he’s lost enough time in the early stages to allow him such freedom from the contenders and once more the rest don’t seem able to beat him.

Whether this now triggers his bid for the King of the Mountains competition remains to be seen, but you have to think that like last year, he now fancies his chances and you also wouldn’t put it past him to win another stage.

Dan Martin had to settle for second in the end coming in a minute behind Majka. The Yellow jersey sprinted in 9th with his main rivals behind him bar Alejandro Valverde who had snatched two seconds on the line.

Result: Classement:
1. Majka (TCS) in 5h 2′ 01″

2. D. Martin (TCG) +1′ 00″

3. Buchmann (BOA) + 1’23”


8. Valverde (MOV) +5′ 19″
9. Froome (SKY) +5′ 21″
10. Contador (TCS)
11. Quintana (MOV)
13, Van Garderen (BMC) all s.t.
23. Nibali (AST) +6′ 11″

1. Froome (SKY) in 41h 3′ 31″

2. Van Garderen (BMC) +2′ 52″

3. Quintana (MOV) +3′ 09″

4. Valverde (MOV) +3’59”

5. Thomas (SKY) +4′ 03″

6. Contador (TSC) +4′ 04″

Thousands line the streets as Martin crashes out in dramatic opening team-time-trial in Belfast

You know that theory that you cannot win a Grand Tour on the opening days time-trial but you can lose it? Well, never before has that been so evident as it was today in Belfast for the team-time-trial to start this years Giro d’Italia. A dramatic day of edge-of-your-seat action surrounded by an amazing turn out of fans generating a 21.7 kilometre wall of noise despite the changeable conditions that seen the race play into the hands of some, already begin to slip away from others, and totally vanish for Dan Martin.

And it was those changeable conditions that played a big part in the script. Hot favourite for the event, Orica GreenEdge drew an early start and made the most of the dry course, avoiding the rain that only began to fall toward the back end of their run, to post a time that stood up for the rest of the day. As a result their first man across the line — birthday boy, Svein Tuft of Canada — pulled on the first Maglia Rosa jersey of this years Giro. A fantastic story, but one that was overshadowed by another event out on the circuit.

Just last night when putting tougher a last minute preview of the Giro — and in particular the weekends racing in Northern Ireland — I tipped Irishman, Dan Martin, as one of three to watch. My thinking was that maybe, just maybe, with the race starting on the island of Ireland the stars might align in his favour and that he would take the next big step in his career. Sadly though the ‘luck of the Irish’ that we all thought might come his way, did not. A massive crash that came about when Martin himself slipped on a wet manhole, brought down the majority of his team and ended his Giro dream with a broken collarbone barely before it had begun.

It was the only moment in which the onlooking crowd that happened to be in front of the big-screens were stunned into silence.

That was the most dramatic example of the weather playing its part and it brought back memories of a Tour de France prologue in 1995 when hot British favourite to win the day, Chris Boardman, crashed in the wet in Saint-Brieuc ending his participation in the race, though this might have been bigger still given the races location and Martin’s GC aspirations over the three week tour.

Another victim of the crash — in relation to the overall battle for Pink — was Ryder Hesjedal the Canadian winner of the Giro in 2012. Hesjedal didn’t come down, but because the teams time is taken on the fifth man across the line and because fewer than five of them were left standing, the team were forced to wait and in doing so finished well back on the winning time posted by Orica GreenEdge. Hesjedal’s Giro GC aspirations are essentially over.

Another big loser on the day was Joaqium Rodriguez, who’s Katusha team had a nightmare in the wet conditions and finished 1 minute 33 seconds behind the Orica GreenEdge time, but more importantly, 1 minute 26 seconds behind Cadel Evans’s BMC team who came in third on the day behind the Omega Pharma QuickStep team who took advantage of a drying course late to run Orica GreenEdge closest. Rodriguez also lost 38 seconds to the man many consider to be his biggest rival to win this Giro, Nairo Quintana. His Movistar were expected to finish near the front but had to settle for eighth.

All Irish hopes are not quite lost however. Martin may be gone, but Nicolas Roche’s Tinkoff-Saxo team came in fourth, 23 seconds down on the winning time. Those time gaps between Evans, Roche, Quintana and Rodriguez, while small enough over a three week race, could yet prove significant.

So all in all it was a day in which the weather changed the fortunes for many but none more so than that of the Irish and Canadian contingents of Martin and Hesjedal respectively (one gone and one essentially out of contention) versus Roche and Tuft, the later who has turned a Lanterne Rouge finish in last years Tour de France into a Grand Tour lead to start this years Giro.

Tomorrow they all go again and I get the feeling we might see more drama again with the weather playing its part. That is only my speculation but what I can guarantee is more big crowds generating an atmosphere unique to the people of Northern Ireland all along the 218 km route. The fans done themselves proud today and its clear in what you read and hear from riders and media a like, that this was one of the better openings to a Grand Tour outside the events main country that they can remember.

I know as a Northern Irishman living abroad and watching a Grand Tour with Belfast as its back drop on my television, the surreal feeling quickly gave way to pride as the people, and the country, with assistance from the athletes themselves, of course, put on a fine show in front of a global audience.

Result

1. Orica Greenedge, 21.7 km in 24’45”

2. Omega Pharma QuickStep + 5 secs

3. BMC + 7 secs

4. Tinkoff-Saxo + 23 secs

5. Team Sky + 35 secs

6. Astana + 38 secs

Others

8. Movistar + 55 secs

19. Katusha + 1-33

22. Garmin-Sharp + 3-26

Sky crumble; Froome survives; Martin becomes first Irishman since uncle in ’92 to win a stage

When I woke up this morning I was well aware that this saw-tooth of a stage would be well underway. Perhaps already having crested the first couple of climbs, but confident that the real action was still waiting for me when I ambled into the living room and turned on the television. How wrong I was, because as I slept someone out there in the fast moving peloton of the Tour de France had lit the match and the race had exploded into life.

As it turns out the race wasn’t even on the TV. They were showing the F1 and the build up to the Wimbledon final instead, but it was being live streamed on TSN’s website and so I didn’t have to miss the action. As I sat down on the sofa I had to my right the lights going out to begin the German Grand Prix and to my left a shrinking peloton of men, only one of which was a member of Team Sky, heading up into the mountains.

Somehow, somewhere, down the road the rivals of Chris Froome and Sky had managed to isolate the Yellow jersey with half the stage still to go. It was exactly what they had to do after the beating they had taken the day before and now, if they played it right, they could badly expose Froome. This would be a true test of his abilities and if he came through it we’d know just how good he was looking to win this race.

People said the Tour was over the day before but I held out hope for something like this, I just didn’t think we’d get it the next morning. I thought they might wait until the final week in the Alps when climb after climb would ware them all down to the brink of exhaustion.

The Movistar team had virtually their entire team accounted for at the front and were driving the pace, not allowing any break of men go up the road, even those not dangerous to the overall classification. Alejandro Valverde was tucked in behind his boys and must have been sniffing a massive opportunity. Even Richie Porte, the teammate of Chris Froome who had had finished second yesterday had been blown out the back. The finger pointers claiming there was something sinister and unnatural about Sky had been silenced as it quickly became evident that they were paying a price today for their efforts yesterday. Only Froome could hang on as stiff morning legs were given no time to warm up.

And so it continued over the mountains. Porte tried to bridge the gap back to his leader but cracked in the process and lost an astounding amount of time. Every now and then someone of little GC relevance would attack but could never get far. I don’t mind Chris Froome but as a sporting spectacle I was hoping someone might gain back some time on him and show us that this race could yet be a wide open duel all the way to Paris and as a result I was on the edge of my seat urging someone to attack and not leave it too late.

But nobody of note did attack and down the descent and onto the final climb they went. They’d better go soon I thought or Froome will mark any late surge. All Movistar were doing was exactly what Sky would have done had they been present. This was not putting Froome into trouble. Then Nairo Quintana attacked … but Froome responded. He tried again and once more the Kenyan born Brit rode up to his wheel.

As the climb went on I began to think that Froome himself might make the move, but with 30 kilometres lying between the top of the climb and the finish of the stage at the bottom of the mountain I think Froome thought it wise to conserve himself and not lose any time.

Movistar had all the power but only one man attacked. Alberto Contador on his Saxo-Tinkoff team tried nothing and the rest just sat by watching and waiting. Nobody wanted to risk blowing to bits, to risk their overall position in the top ten by forcing Froome to chace and allowing someone else to counter attack. And I suppose on sage nine that might be a little much to ask with so much Tour still to go. Nobody is going to jeopardise their Tour for someone else to take Chris Froome’s jersey while they lose additional time … not yet, not until late in this Tour when it really will be all or nothing.

As the band of contenders rolled over the final climb it was confirmed that this was little more than an experiment by Movistar to test the legs of the Sky team as a whole. To prove to themselves and to others that if the pressure was applied correctly Froome could be isolated. I can only presume it was done to land a psychological blow on Froome, to make him, his team and everyone think about what would lie ahead come the Alps.

While this was going on Dan Martin, the English born Irish man attacked and went over the final climb in the lead with Jakob Fuglsang of the Astana team. They rode the descent together and fended off the chasing pack to set up the sprint which Martin won giving Garmin their first win of the 2013 Tour and Ireland their first stage winner since Dan’s uncle, Stephen Roche won in 1992. It’s been along time coming.

The win pushed Martin into the top ten overall just 2 minutes, 28 seconds behind Froome and very much in contention, if not for the overall victory, then certainly for a podium position. What a result that would be and with the confidence of the race win behind him as well as the assumed team leadership there’s no reason he cannot be aggressive the rest of the way and really take the race to the others. He might just be the man to make the kind of move on Froome that everyone was hoping for from one of his top five rivals on the final climb today.

Stage 9 results:

1. Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) in 4h 43’3″

2. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) s.t.

3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma Quickstep) +20″

4. Daniel Moreno (Katusha) s.t.

5. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) s.t.

6. Cadel Evans (BMC) s.t.

60. Richie Porte (Sky) +17’59”

General classification after stage 9:

1. Chris Froome (Sky) in 36h 59’18

2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +1’25”

3. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) +1’44”

4. Laurens Ten Dam (Belkin) +1’50”

5. Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff) +1’51”

6. Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) s.t.