Thursday 25 December 2014

Daniel Martin: Keeping up the family tradition

With Stephen Roche as an uncle and a father who was an olympian, Daniel Martin has cycling in his genes

Daniel Martin of Garmin-Sharp crosses the finish line to win the Liege-Bastogne-Liege road race last year

Daniel Martin hails from a sporting dynasty which has dominated the discipline of cycling for years. Son of former British Olympic cyclist Neil Martin, nephew of Tour de France winner Stephen Roche and cousin of fellow professional cyclist Nicolas Roche, Daniel has inherited the cream of cycling genes.

But the 26-year-old is adamant on making his own name, now holding an astonishing sixth place in the world Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) rankings.

Dan Martin during a visit to Croke Park following his victory in the 2013

Having won the Tour of Catalonia in March, then securing an electrifying victory in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège race in Belgium a month later and finishing fourth in Belgium's Walloon Arrow in the same month, it has truly been a year to remember for the cycling sensation.

And that's not all. Martin is now co-leading the Garmin-Sharp team in the 100th Tour de France (June 29 to July 21), with a stage win already under his belt. With a history like this, who knows what heights he can attain.

Growing up surrounded by cycling, it was inevitable the Birmingham-born youngster was to follow in the footsteps of his family.

"Being part of a cycling family, I think it was natural I developed a love for the sport. I went to watch my dad race when I was only about 10 days old."

However, some say he was a late starter, turning professional aged 18.

"I don't think I was a late starter. I was riding a bike from the age of two, but it's true that bar a few minor competitions, I only really started racing seriously at the age of 16.

"I actually think it's the right time to start as it's not a career, like other sports, that ends early, as you only reach your peak as an endurance athlete around the age of 30.

"Even when I was under 18, I wasn't really that serious. I don't think you need to be at that age as it can lead to getting bored of the sport. I just tried to enjoy it and ride when I wanted to."

Despite being born in England, the Irish rider, who weighs 62kg (9st 11lbs), decided to ride for Ireland in 2006.

"The British nationality was always a convenience. Being at school in the UK, it meant I could ride the national series races without having to travel. Deep down I was always Irish and so when I found out I could change, I spoke to Cycling Ireland and they welcomed me with open arms and I haven't looked back."

And did his strong cycling credentials impact on his decision to turn professional, being the son of Maria Roche – Stephen Roche's sister – and Neil Martin?

"For most kids, it begins as a dream, but perhaps for myself having such a rich family tradition in the sport it made it less of a dream and more of a realistic goal," he says.

"It's a huge race with a list of winners that reads like a who's who of cycling and I still don't think it has sunk in. In the final kilometres I was just so focused I wasn't really thinking of anything. If I started to think about the millions of people watching on television, I might get a bit of stage fright."

This victory made Martin only the second Irishman after Sean Kelly in 1984 to win the Tour of Catalonia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the same year.

"To be mentioned in the same breath as Sean is incredible, but I'm nowhere near the bike rider he was. He was, and still is, a true legend of the sport and I have a long ways to go yet.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Also in this Section

Promoted articles

Top Stories

Most Read

Independent Gallery

Your photos

Send us your weather photos promo

Celebrity News