Matin wins Lombardia
Dan Martin saved a disappointing, crash-filled season with a major victory in Il Lombardia.
The Irishman attacked with just under a kilometer to go and top rival Philippe Gilbert and Alejandro Valverde played a disastrous game of “No, you chase.”
Many experts and pros (including the savvy and experienced Chris Horner) continue to insist that Valverde is a master tactician. That may well be true but what he often appears to have mastered is second and third place.
That is one of the many reasons to love Dan Martin. He always rides for the win and isn’t afraid to take the risk.
After an amazing run of bad luck, he put everything behind him — bad luck, Valverde, Gilbert, Costa — and took his second Monument to go with his Liège-Bastogne-Liège title in 2013.
We always root for Martin because he has such an “everyman” look on the bike. His style is gangly and jerky compared to riders like Contador who are so smooth and fluid. His crooked teeth make him look like an Irish school boy that the headmaster just sent up to ride with the big boys. “Be a good lad, mind your manners, and don’t get in Mr. Valverde’s way.”
We’re convinced his lack of imposing physical style help him fool his rivals. They might respect his talent but they can’t actually believe that he’s a badass in disguise.
“I love this race, it’s one of my favorite races,” said Martin. “To get second and crash in the last corner last year, it’s incredible to win it after all the bad luck this year. Last week I felt good and I crashed again. I believed, and the team believed, in me all the way, that the luck would change and we would get the big victory.”
Few sports have so any individual ups and downs, highs and lows and no sport requires such a strong sense of self-belief. Even with his crash on stage one of the Giro d’Italia and his crash in the final corner in Liege Bastogne Liege, Martin keep on believing things would turn around.
Read the race report and the word they used was “ghosted.” As in Martin, ghosted to the back of the Gilbert-Valverde group, unseen, off the radar, just before he suddenly attacked.
That’s Martin in a nutshell: a ghost. A killer ghost.