What's Cool In Road Cycling

Dan Martin Gets PEZ’d!

First year professionals; they’re supposed to find their feet, learn the ropes, listen to what the old pros say and get in the odd ‘suicide’ move. Daniel Martin (Ireland Garmin) didn’t read that part of the script; he won a French pro stage race, a national championship and took a top ten placing in a national Tour.

We thought we better have a word with this 22 year-old Irishman with the Birmingham accent, whose dad was British amateur road race champion and whose uncle is Stephen Roche.

PEZ: You’ve been British junior champion and now, Irish elite champion?
Dan: The Irish pursued me to take out citizenship even when I was a junior, but the family leans towards Ireland anyway, I love the country and there’s such a good atmosphere in the national team.

PEZ: What about those genes?
Dan: It doesn’t affect me as a person, I’m my own man, I like the fact that people say now that my dad is; ‘Daniel’s father,’ rather than me being; ‘Neil Martin’s son.’ Hopefully, one day they’ll say Stephen is; ‘Daniel’s uncle,’ rather than ‘he’s Stephen Roche’s nephew.’

PEZ: Does your dad give much advice?
Dan: He can’t now, the sport is so far advanced; it’s moved on so much from when he was British amateur champion, then a pro, back in the 80’s. But he understands the sport and the situations that occur, I don’t have to explain to him how hard it is.

PEZ: Stephen Roche was shrewd in his contract dealings; do you get advice from him on that aspect?
Dan: Not really, when we meet, we tend to talk family stuff.

My team treats me well, I’m very happy with where I am but maybe if I ever change teams then I might ask him for advice. At the minute though, I’m very comfortable being among the guys at Garmin – they are my friends, there’s an emotional connection, the team would never screw me.

PEZ: Was there a specific ride which got you the contract?
Dan: Jonathan Vaughters spotted me in the Valle d’Aosta stage race in 2006; it’s the Italian equivalent of the Tour de l’Avenir. I won a stage and he wanted me to turn pro with him for 2007, but I felt I needed another year to develop in the amateur ranks. It took a lot of pressure off me, I knew that I had someone interested in me and I could just get on with enjoying my bike riding.

PEZ: Is the pro life as you thought it would be?
Dan: I knew the racing would be harder, but the constant travelling as a pro is something that gets you down – you spend so much time in airports.

On the positive side, the team does everything to simplify things for the riders; you really can concentrate on just riding your bike. I’d say that’s one of the main reasons I’ve come on so well this year.

PEZ: What were your expectations for year one of your career?
Dan: I had no goals, just to enjoy my cycling – if you enjoy it then results will come. I have no goals or expectations for next season; I’ll just take it as it comes – I’ll try to keep progressing and enjoying it.

I always go into races wanting to win though, if you expect 20th then that’s what you’ll get. Some of the guys were laughing at me when I joined the squad, because here I was, this first year pro, talking about being up there in mountain top finishes; but that’s just the way I think, I want the best out of myself.

PEZ: Your Route de Sud win – your strong TT was the base for it?
Dan Martin: The time trial set me up, but I won the race on the first day when I was in the break that took 37 minutes. The team car was saying that I should stay on Christophe Moreau’s (France & Agritubel) wheel, but I knew I had to put time into him if I wanted to win overall. I attacked at the end of the first stage and put 1:20 into him, I won the GC by 1:42, so that first day was vital.

PEZ: Stage four, the last day; was it stressful defending the jersey against Moreau?
Dan Martin: Not at all, I felt no stress; I had six of my team around me at the finish, only Tyler Farrar was missing and that was because he’d done 160 kilometres on the front for me.

I was a little worried that Moreau would attack on the last climb, but I’d beaten him on the previous three stages, so I knew I could beat him again, plus I had that 1:42 buffer.

PEZ: You won the Irish champs by three minutes.
Dan: I had no time checks that day; I just went as hard as I could. I was in the breaks all day; I actually had better legs that day than I did at the Route du Sud.

I opened that gap in the last 25 kilometres, there were three of us left and I decided to attack on the first of the finishing hills, to give myself as many opportunities as I could to get clear. But as it turned out, I got the gap with the first jump and got away. It was a beautiful day, and what made it better was that my family were all at the finish.

PEZ: You took 10th on GC in the Tour of Portugal.
Dan: Some people say that it’s as hard a race as the Tour de France, albeit that it’s 12 days. It was an awesome experience; I lead the young rider classification for a week – right until the last day’s time trial where Tiago Machado (Portugal & Madeinox-Boavista) beat me and overtook me on GC by 11 seconds.

It gave me a lot of experience of racing at that level, the young rider jersey presentations and interviews, for instance, that takes up about 45 minutes every day, that’s recovery time you are loosing and it does add up.

It was the longest time trial I’ve ridden too – around 50 minutes; and it was my first experience of a rest day.

We were very happy how it went because really it was just a training race for us.

PEZ: A Grand Tour in 2009?
Dan: Oh yes – but I’m not sure which one, we’ll discuss my programme at the first training camp.

PEZ: The winter?
Dan: I’m having four weeks off the bike, then it’ll be yoga, stretching, weights – as I said I’ll be meeting my coach at the first camp and we’ll talk about my programme and training there. I’ll be starting a bit later though, because I hope to ride the Ardennes classics and then maybe, the Giro.

PEZ: What do you do when you’re not in training?
Dan: Nothing! I was up at the Braveheart dinner in Scotland; I was in Las Vegas and some of the boys and I went to New York and did all that sight seeing stuff.

PEZ: I ask all Garmin riders this – Argyle?
Dan: It’s different, it has everyone talking about it – the jersey has been changed for 2009, I can’t give any secrets away, but it’s cool!

We’ll take your word on that, Dan!

Meanwhile, we’d like to thank Dan for his time and wish him all the best for 2009; and by the way, we think he’s headed for the very top.

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.