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Dan Martin returns to Giro d'Italia in 2021 with 'unfinished business'

Dan Martin (israel Start-Up Nation) at Tour du Var 2021 recon
Dan Martin (israel Start-Up Nation) at the 2021 Tour du Var 2021 (Image credit: Israel Start-Up Nation)

Dan Martin will return to the Giro d’Italia this year for the first time since 2014, when his race was ended by a crash in the opening team time trial in Belfast. 

Israel Start-Up Nation announced on Thursday that the Irishman will lead the team at the Giro, which gets underway in Turin on May 8.

“It feels like unfinished business there as, well, I guess everybody knows the story. I arrived at the start in Belfast in excellent form and crashed out halfway through the TTT in stage 1,” Martin said in a statement from his team. 

“It was tough for me to watch the race that year, but I have always been a huge fan of the [Giro]. After completing it in 2010, it has just never fit with my goals or the team’s ambitions since then for me to be at the Ardennes classics and the Tour.”

Martin placed 57th overall on his Giro debut in 2010 – “a race that nearly killed me,” he told the Sunday Independent in 2017 – where the highlight was ninth-place finish atop the Zoncolan. 

He has finished in the top 10 overall at the Tour de France on three occasions in the intervening period and last November he recorded the best Grand Tour finish of his career to date when he placed fourth overall at the Vuelta a España.

While Martin is also expected to line up alongside Chris Froome at the Tour, he has been handed sole leadership of the team at the Giro. The seven riders who will support him in May have yet to be announced.

“We believe he can perform well in both Grand Tours,” team manager Kjell Carlstrom said of Martin. 

“This year’s Giro d’Italia should, on paper, suit Dan and his style of racing quite well, and it will be very interesting to see how things go as there are certainly many contenders.”

Martin joins a long list of overall contenders at the Giro, with Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) among those to have confirmed their participation.

The race route opens with a short time trial around Turin and ends with a 29.4km time trial to Milan but is packed with mountains and hilly stages, including a stage on the dirt roads of Tuscany to Montalcino. 

“The course looks good for the strong team who will start alongside me in Torino,” said Martin. 

“I can’t wait for the opportunity to go for a stage win in Italy, and to try to complete my set of Grand Tour stage victories. Italy is a country I love, with roads that I have enjoyed considerable success on. It feels like I am discovering a new race – like I’m a neo-pro again!”

Martin missed a plan start at Tirreno-Adriatico last month due to illness, but he returned to competition at last week’s Volta a Catalunya, where he placed 25th overall. He is set to line out at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège before the Grande Partenza in Turin.