Dan Martin on coronavirus: Take a reality check and stay inside

ALTO DA FIA MONCHIQUE PORTUGAL FEBRUARY 20 Arrival Dan Martin of Ireland and Team Israel StartUp Nation Rui Costa of Portugal and UAETeam Emirates Tim Wellens of Belgium and Team Lotto Soudal during the 46th Volta ao Algarve 2020 Stage 2 a 1839 km stage from Sagres Vila do Bispo to Alto da Fia 884m Monchique VAlgarve2020 on February 20 2020 in Alto da Fia Monchique Portugal Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Dan Martin racing before the coronavirus lockdown (Image credit: Getty Images)

Just over a week ago Daniel Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) was putting the finishing touches to a huge block of training as he prepared for a stint of racing that would have carried him towards a string of Spring objectives. 

A week on, and Martin is currently sitting in his back yard with his wife and two young daughters as he gets used to life on lockdown in Andorra. He can only leave the house for essential needs such as food and medicine, while bike riding on the roads – his livelihood – is totally out of the question. Such is the life for a pro cyclist while the coronavirus pandemic enforces shutdowns and on communities across the globe. 

Despite feeling disappointment at missing out on races like Catalunya, the Tour of the Basque Country, and the Ardennes Classics, the Irish climber has moved on and realized that cycling pales in comparison to what is currently going on in the world.

“They were aggressive with the shut down here but it’s been impeccably well accepted,” Martin told Cyclingnews from his home on Saturday morning.

“It was a bit of a surprise but at the start, we weren’t sure if we could ride but they clarified the situation. We’re role models so they’d prefer us to stay inside. I’ve been on the home trainer now and I was just about to start my tapering anyway after a huge training week but we all need to take a reality check because at least we have our health, and there are people in much worse circumstances at the moment. We have to be role models, do our bit and stay inside.” 

With no racing on the horizon, Martin has turned to Zwift and online training as he looks to hold his condition. Speed will be easier to keep than endurance over the coming weeks but uncertainty shrouds everything at the moment – not least because different countries have imposed different levels of rules and because the virus has reached various levels in neighboring countries.

“I’ve just started to get back into training now but the hard part comes down to how you make a plan because you don’t know when you’ll next be racing,” Martin told Cyclingnews.

“It’s going to be really interesting because we’ve never been in this situation. There are lots of two-week lockdowns but in reality, we don’t know how long it’s going to last for. I was a bit bummed at the start because I was starting to come into some really good form and was really excited about Catalunya and Basque Country but there are people with much bigger problems than that."

Martin can envisage a scenario in which restrictions are lifted in regards to outside riding in one country but clamped down on in others. For instance, one can still ride in the United Kingdom – for now – but the situation is completely different in various mainland countries in Europe. Some have raised questions about a two-speed Tour de France taking place later this year but for Martin the situation is more complex. Again, he takes a step back from the cycling bubble.

“It’s not too bad training inside, because we’ve got the technology with things like Zwift. The problem is going to be when in maybe a week we can train outside in Andorra but in places like Italy and Spain, where things are worse, it might be different. There will be a point where the virus is in remission in some places but not in others, but can you start racing then? Do we need to wait for the whole world to get over this thing? That’s why it’s impossible to put a deadline on things. When you turn on the television there are people giving out all these numbers but the truth is that no one knows what’s going to happen.”

“Even by July, some countries are going to be on full lockdown in the world. That’s going to be normal. That’s tricky because global travel could be effected for around 12 months. France and Spain are hopefully on their way to getting through this but somewhere like the UK is a few weeks behind and the US is still even further back. I don’t see us being able to travel freely for quite some time. Bigger things are going on right now than bike racing. You just need to get through this in the best possible mental state because it’s tough for everybody.”

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.