Dan Martin of Garmin-Sharp has won the 2013 Volta a Catalunya by 17 seconds over Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). It’s a major career redefining win and it’s also in large measure a tribute to the patience of team boss Jonathan Vaughters.
The Irishman has been with Vaughters since back in 2008 when he signed with the Garmin-Chipotle H30 squad. The burritos are gone but Martin is still there. That’s a five year wait in a sport that doesn’t often given riders must time to get results.
He won the Route Du Sud that first year but its still been a long, steady process of building the strength, resilience and confidence required to win a stage race like Catalunya against riders such as 2012 World Number one Rodriquez, Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Sky)and Dr. Ferrari’s good friend Michele Scarponi (Lampre).
In 2010 Martin hit a new level with his overall victory in the Tour of Poland and a year later he took a stage in the Vuelta Espana and second in the Giro di Lombardia. But Vaughters was still waiting for bigger things to come.
Then last year the wins didn’t happen but Martin knew he still had the support of Vaughters. Today in Barcelona that patience was paid back in full with an impressive Catalunya victory.
Vaughters has consistently shown he’s not afraid to take the longer term perspective. Unlike many squads, Garmin has never been a revolving door and it’s also worth noting that riders who exit Garmin seem to have trouble the following season — whether that’s bad luck or poor results. Just ask Bradley Wiggins and Thor Hushovd about their first year post-Garmin.
The argyle genius has slowly nurtured several talented riders on his team. He stuck with Ryder Hesjedal and was rewarded with a magnificent 2012 Giro d’Italia win. He worked for years on Tom Danielson’s nutritional issues and mental insecurities and Danielson finished his first Tour de France in 10th place.
Several years ago Christian Vande Velde had crashed badly so many times that Vaughters suggested he just take some time away from the sport and then come back if he still had the desire. Well, Vande Velde was instrumental in Hesjedal’s Giro win and last August Vande Velde won Colorado’s hotly contested US Pro Cycling Challenge on the final day time trial.
In fact, Vaughters has also taken the long-term approach with ex-doper Erick Dekker. He signed the Dutch rider to a contract then shoved him down on the development squad to see if Dekker was really serious about riding clean. Slowly but surely Dekker is rebuilding his career and we expect those results to show this season.
Vaughters has created a environment at Garmin where riders have the consistent, long-term support they need to reach their best form. There’s a place for the nut-balls like Dave Zabriskie and the Pitbulls like Andrew Talansky.
Dan Martin won Catalunya but it was also another big win for Jonathan Vaughters’ team philosophy.