While they both targeted Flèche Wallonne as a significant goal in their spring schedules, Nicolas Roche (AG2R-La Mondiale) and his first cousin Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervélo) had to abandon the race after a bad crash.
The accident, due to a "mechanical issue" according to Roche, happened near kilometre 85, approximately 15 kilometres after the first passage of the Mur de Huy.
"I was following my cousin, but his gears blocked," Martin told Cyclingnews. "He got out of the saddle and his gears just stopped. He went over the top of the handlebars. I tried to avoid him and someone else's bike hit me."
Roche and Martin were brought to the Hospital of Huy for X-rays. Roche was feared to have broken his elbow and also suffered injuries to his hip and his groin. Martin, thought to have suffered a collarbone fracture, also had cuts to his hip and elbow.
At the hospital Roche and Martin cheered each other up while they awaited the X-rays exams. "It was a nice opportunity to tend to the family business," Roche joked.
"Our crash in the Flèche could have been worse," Martin said, as examinations confirmed there were no broken bones.
Ironically both Irish riders have had very few accidents in their racing careers. The last time Martin crashed out of a race was at the 2010 Giro di Lombardia but many riders had similar issues that day because of terrible weather. Moreover, Flèche Wallonne has been a source bad luck, he said, because he crashed there two years ago. "And I had a bad premonition this morning, it's very strange," Martin said.
Noting that he normally only crashes once or twice per year, Roche recalled his last bad day was Sunday, in the Amstel Gold Race, because of two riders touching their wheels in front of him.
Stephen Roche, Nicolas's father and Dan's uncle, had the same "lucky Irish" reputation. "Yes, he didn't crash so often," his son confirmed. "I just remember that he did once in Clasica San Sebastian, one of his last races. And strangely I also crashed in the Clasica in 2009!"
Roche, AG2R-La Mondiale's all-rounder, had a one hour ride Thursday morning. "Needed to stretch out the legs!" he wrote on Twitter. "Very stiff but ok! Will be able to train good tomorrow!"
Martin didn't ride as his team doctor prescribed a 48-hour medical observation.
Officially, both remain uncertain to ride Liège-Bastogne-Liège Sunday.
"I really would like to race it as Liège is one of the races I used to watch on TV as a kid, as well as Paris-Nice and the Tour de France," said Roche. "I won't say I will win it but I want to be there."
Martin explained on Wednesday night that the decision to race was in his team's hands. "If they want me to go, I would be pleased to do strong work for the team."
Martin said he planned to clear his head and treat his pain through a typical Belgian meal: mussels, chips and beer.