The Israel Start-Up Nation rider was one of many who had a less than ideal build-up to the 2020 French Grand Tour, crashing on the hailstorm stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné and breaking a bone at the base of his back.
However, it takes more than fractures to break the Irishman’s spirit, saying he’s in less pain on the start line in Nice than if he was resting up back at home. We assume he means physical pain and not the mental torture of missing out on the world’s biggest bike race.
“Yeah I’m okay,” Martin said. “I mean I have a little bit of pain still but to be honest it’s worse sitting on the sofa than it is on the saddle.
“I feel good on the bike but racing is a different thing. I basically had to miss a week/ten days of training, these first stages are definitely going to hurt. I haven’t been able to ride over four hours these past two weeks so I’m just planning on getting through the first few stages and getting the body used to the distance again and we’ll see what we can do after the first rest day.”
The winner of two Tour stages, the 2020 route is one that should offer Martin ample opportunities if he has the legs, especially in an Israel Start-Up Nation line-up that doesn’t yet include the GC aspirations of Chris Froome.
But if the race has to stop before then because of the coronavirus pandemic, Martin sees the bigger picture, and is more melancholic about the state of everything in 2020.
“All of this is a reality now,” Martin says of a Tour de France dominated by masks and lack of public access at the start and finish lines. “It’s actually pretty sad what the world has become this year.
“Obviously it’s a necessity and if that’s what’s needed for the race to be on and continue then it’s what we have to do. There’s no discussion on that. If we have to go home because of two positives, obviously the health of everybody and the greater good has to come first.”