Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) went into the Tour de France Roubaix stage 9 hoping to enjoy the cobbles after a heavy crash the day before, but admitted afterwards that 'enjoy' probably wasn't the right word.
"Wow, what an experience," Martin told the press afterwards, summing up his day on the cobbles.
Martin crashed together with Katusha-Alpecin's Tony Martin on the eighth stage, and while his German namesake abandoned with a fractured vertebra, the Irishman survived to fight another day, though with his back 'ripped to pieces'.
"My back is a different story," he said of his injuries. "It looks like a bit of a pizza back there."
Martin, like many of the other overall contenders, was fighting hard for position at the start of the race. The jostling resulted in an early crash that eliminated fellow GC contender Richie Porte (BMC Racing), as well as Movistar's Jose Joaquin Rojas. Eventually, Martin saw the struggle for position as an energy sapping exercise and placed himself towards the back, where he had an easier day of it.
"I was kind of fighting for the front, but I soon figured out I couldn't do that all day, I had to play the long game, so I went back," explained Martin. "I went to the back a few times to get something to eat and drink and just trying to save my legs for the final.
"I knew it was going to be a really long hard day It was just about staying composed and knowing that the race would come back to you. I had all the guys around me and they stayed with me no matter what happened. And in the end. I had the legs to really get into the final."
Initially caught in the wrong group when the peloton split at sector 12, Martin's UAE teammates carefully shepherded him back to the front group, where he stayed with the other overall favourites. He finished in that group, only 27 seconds behind winner John Degenkolb (Trek Segafredo) and moved up from 31st overall to 24th, at 3:22 down.