Can Dan Martin Climb Back to Previous Heights?

With Ireland’s Sam Bennett now at home in the winner’s enclosure at the Tour of Italy, one has to ask the question if the country’s other top cyclist, Dan Martin, will ever regain the success he once enjoyed.

Only four short years ago, Martin was one of the top cyclists in the world, finishing the 2013 and 2014 seasons in 6th and 9th place respectively in the UCI world rankings. Those years included wins at classic one day races, Liege Bastogne Liege and Tour of Lombardy as well as a stage at the 2013 Tour De France.

But it was the 2014 season that was to signal the beginning of a long series of crashes that would plague the Irishman who in the almost four years since, has yet to win another race (aside from a stage at the minor Tour of Valencia in 2016). About to triumph at Liege Bastogne Liege for the second time in 2014, Martin fell off on the final corner while alone in first place and guaranteed a win. Later the same year he would tumble out of the Tour of Italy during the wet stage 1 time trial. In 2015 Martin crashed out of the Tour of Spain and last year hit the deck once more on a fast descent at the Tour De France.

2018 has already seen Martin tumble at the Tour of Catalunya on the slippy final stage in a year that has been devoid not only of wins but also of top placings. Martin has strangely opted to shift his focus to a top general classification placing at this year’s Tour De France, but this seems a risky strategy for a rider who possesses only one of the three skills necessary to excel at the sport’s greatest race.

It has long been accepted that in order to win any major tour, a rider has to climb with the best, descend with the best and time trial with the best. Martin can no doubt do the first, but descending is not something he is comfortable with, especially in the wet, and given the knocks to his confidence, one can understand why. Against the clock, Martin also consistently turns in performances that see him loose minutes to his major rivals, Chris Froome for one, who is arguably the best in the world going uphill, downhill and solo.

It will be interesting to see come July if Martin has worked on and improved the two weakest parts of his game, and if his gamble pays off.

We hope he has, and it does.