Cycling: Martin hails team effort in Polish success
Having laid the foundations with a fine solo victory on stage five in Ustron, Daniel Martin became the first Irish cyclist to win a ProTour stage race when he took overall victory at the Tour of Poland in Krakow on Saturday.
Martin held onto a slim eight-second lead over Lampre's Grega Bole on the final stage, with a dozen other riders finishing within a minute of the 23-year-old to end the week-long Tour.
His Garmin-Transitions squad were instrumental in the former Irish champion's victory, riding themselves into the ground chasing down and reeling in numerous dangerous attacks over the final two stages.
"Even though I showed on the climb on stage five that I was one of the fastest guys in the race, it's a different story when you've got the yellow jersey and all these guys are trying to beat you," said Martin yesterday.
"With just eight seconds of a lead we didn't want to start celebrating too early. We tried to think of every eventuality on the last stage.
"We knew that Bole could win both bonus sprints and get third on the stage and take the win. We knew there was a storm coming, but the team were just unbelievable and even with five kilometres to go, I still had two guys with me. The team had done so much of the work for me that I felt pretty fresh and the last 20km were pretty much easy."
Martin joined the Garmin-Transitions team in 2008 and has grown with the squad as it developed into one of the strongest in the world. "I'm lucky to have a team around me that has faith in me and believes in me," Martin continues.
"I had a year where I didn't ride any ProTour races. The next year I did a few of them and now, this year, I've actually won a ProTour stage race. For me, obviously it's a huge win, but for Garmin-Transitions, it's their first ProTour stage race win too, which is massive. When I saw the course for Poland, I actually asked the team to do it. I knew that I'd be going good and it was a course that suited me.
"That became my objective for the second part of the season. I knew that after the Giro, the Vuelta would be too much for me. I'm still only 23, so it was good to have a one-week stage race as an objective as I felt it was an achievable goal. I didn't go into the race expecting to win.
"Obviously we went there with a really strong team and that meant that when I got the yellow jersey, I was able to keep it with their help."