By Gregor Brown in Varese
Ireland's Dan Martin did what he had to do with the Under-23 World Championship title in contention ahead – he risked it. He shot out of the chase group to bridge to the seven-strong lead with around 25 kilometres remaining of the 173.5-kilometre race in Varese, Italy.
"It is about taking risks; to win the race you have to risk losing it. I lost it and the next time I hope it pays off," said Martin to Cyclingnews. "That was my only chance to get over to the group and I had to do it then."
Martin, racing in his fifth World Championships, cut the minute-lead down to ten seconds by the foot of the final climb of Ronchi. The surge took its toll and he was caught by a chasing group before reaching the finish line in Mapei Cycling Stadium – he finished 58th.
"I just knew that the group was ahead, it was a really strong group and they had a minute," he clarified. "It was the last chance to get across. I asked around and tried to get people to come with me but they were not interested; they all thought it was too early and the group would come back.
"I almost got down to the back of them and my legs just went 'boom.' It went south, and it might have been psychological because I saw that the win had gone. I just could not go hard and my legs were empty all the way, it is the end of season."
Martin turned professional this year with Jonathan Vaughters' Team Garmin-Chipotle. He gained experienced alongside the team's seasoned riders and through a varied racing schedule, and tallied up several successes such as a win in the Route du Sud and the Irish Championship road race.
The skills proved valuable in Friday's race. "It is always a hard race to read anyway. I did it all perfect – I ate perfect, I drank perfect – maybe it was a tactical error on my part." He questioned his form heading into the race that is at the tail end of a season that stared in February. "I tried to play it down before the start and I came here to at least try to get a medal."