In spite of crashing heavily on the opening road stage, Dan Martin (Garmin-Barracuda) managed to complete the Critérium du Dauphiné and keep his hopes of making his Tour de France debut intact.
The Irishman fell forcefully on his right side, injuring his shoulder and cracking his helmet in two in the process, but fortunately sustained no broken bones in the incident. Although his restricted movement would hinder his ability to eat on the bike for much of the week, Martin battled through to Châtel and declared himself pleased with his condition as he emerged from the race.
“I’m really proud to have finished the race now because it’s been a really tough week,” Martin told Cyclingnews in Morzine ahead of Sunday’s final stage. “The physios and the chiropractor have been great and the guys have been incredible at keeping the morale up.
“I just count myself pretty lucky because I was pretty sure that I’d broken my shoulder when I crashed. So to come away from that with just some muscular damage is pretty good.”
Martin was able to count on the help of Sep Vanmarcke in particular during his travails on stages two and three, as he struggled to feed himself on the hoof. “I didn’t have the strength in my right arm to support myself when I took my left hand off the bars to eat,” he explained.
Indeed, like Andy Schleck, who would crash and eventually abandon later in the week, Martin’s injuries meant that simply climbing out of the saddle proved nigh on impossible for several days. “I couldn’t get out of the saddle, so I’ve done it all seated, which really isn’t usual for me,” he explained, before joking, “But in terms of training my lower back to sit in the saddle all the time, I suppose it’s been a good week for me.”
Tour de France
After a strong spring campaign that saw him finish 4th at the Volta a Catalunya and in the top 6 at both Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, it would be understandable if Martin were frustrated that his crash denied him the chance to test himself against the likes of Cadel Evans and Bradley Wiggins in the mountains.
“It’s hard to be frustrated when I’m still in one piece,” he said. “I split my helmet in two as well, so it could have been a lot worse. Besides, I was able to climb in the front group on Friday, the first hard day [over the Col du Grand Colombier - ed.]”
Martin was one of many riders unable to follow the tempo imposed by Team Sky’s disquieting show of force on the Col de Joux-Plane on Saturday afternoon, but given his travails earlier in the race, the Irishman was not unduly concerned.
“Physically, I think getting through this week has shown that my form is pretty good, but the lack of recovery over the week caught up with me,” he said. “I know the legs are there, I’m confident. Hopefully I’ll be up with those guys at the Tour.”
Forced out at the last minute through injury in 2009 and surprisingly overlooked last season despite a fine run of June form, Martin is still waiting to make his Tour de France debut. Given his past experience, he is reluctant to discuss La Grande Boucle until he has a number pinned on his back on June 30.
“I pulled out when I was already in Monaco in 2009 with a sore knee and it could have been the same with this crash as well,” Martin said. “Anything can happen. I’ll just wait until I’m in Liège before I start talking about the Tour.”