The last time Dan Martin (Israel Start–Up Nation) took part in the Giro d’Italia he probably spent as much time on the presentation stage as he did on the road after a crash in the opening team time trial put a premature end to his race in Belfast.
Seven years on and the Irishman has returned and while revenge isn’t on his mind, the former Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner wants to complete his set of stage wins in Grand Tours as well as a hat-trick of top ten finishes in three week stage races.
“Last time I did the race I did the team presentation and that was about it,” Martin joked in reference to his ill-fated 2014 Giro.
“It’s nice to be back, and hopefully third time lucky. I was there in 2010 but 2014 was wiped from my memory because I did about 15km or something like that.”
Martin’s leadership in the Giro d’Italia comes after a solid 2021 in which he has been aggressive in several stage races leading up to this point. A fine fourth overall and stage win in last year’s Vuelta a España also rekindled the Irishman’s relationship with top-ten competition in Grand Tours after two quieter appearances in the Tour de France in 2019 and 2020. The 34-year-old arrives in Turin in a relaxed but determined state of mind.
“I‘ve always gone into Grand Tours saying let's see how it goes. I know that’s frustrating as hell for you journalists but I’ve never lost time on purpose and I only didn’t have a GC last year in the Tour de France because of my back injury. Then the year before something else happened in the race. Before that, my last few participations in the Grand Tours ended in a GC result,” Martin said.
So much water has passed under the bridge since Martin’s last ride in the Giro so he returns a far more mature and reassured athlete than the one who crashed in 2014 – even more so when compared to the youngster who struggled through the 2010 edition with allergies.
“The main thing is that I know that if I can get to Milan without bad luck and by keeping my health then I can be a contender for the GC," said Martin. "The Vuelta gave me a lot of confidence in terms of coping with the day in day out concentration but also as a team leader I had to step up and guide the team. I can see the maturity in myself now and I’ve realised since becoming a dad and having daughters I’ve realised that I’m racing my bike because I enjoy it. When I’m not enjoying it I’ll stop so let's just see how things go.”
“It doesn’t really matter what happens over the next few weeks. Whether I podium, top five, or if I get 50th, it doesn’t change what I’ve done in my career before or how I am as a person. I’m going to go out there and enjoy the race and if I enjoy the race I’m going to race well.”
With top-ten rides in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana already in his palmares, Martin will be looking to complete his set by the time the Giro reaches Milan on May 30. His participation in this year’s race was announced relatively late and stems from the route presentation and the announcement that the profile of the race would only include two time trials and a high number of mountain stages.
"That’s why I’m here," said Martin. "We didn’t announce any race programme in January. I said to the team when they asked what races I wanted to do to just wait and see what races suited me. There’s no point in deciding a race programme when we don’t know the course.
"The Giro has always been on my radar and I wanted to come back at some point to try and get a stage victory, and to complete my set. I’ve also been top ten in the other grand Tours so that’s another set that I want. I do feel like this is an adventure. I’ve raced in Spain and France so much that this race is almost all new to me. I do lack experience in this race and it could cost me but I’ve got a really experienced team around me and I know some of the climbs and even some of the gravel from being at the race in 2010."
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