Martin lives the dream as he pedals to first Tour stage win
THE proud father of Ireland's first Tour de France stage winner in 21 years has told how his son has fulfilled one of his dreams.
It was edge-of-the-seat viewing for Neil and Maria as they watched their professional cyclist son Dan Martin win the gruelling 168.5km mountain stage from Saint-Girons to Bagneres-de-Bigorre – after uncle Stephen Roche won a stage in 1992.
"He has fulfilled one of his dreams, which is phenomenal really," said his father, UK Olympic cyclist Neil Martin, who married Roche's sister Maria.
Mr Martin was out on his bicycle yesterday morning until he started spotting tweets about Dan's progress. "So I got back and watched the last two-and-a-half hours. We are just thrilled. It is hard to put into words, we were actually speechless. No one deserves it more," said Mr Martin, speaking from their home in Girona, Spain.
Dan formed a two-man breakaway with Denmark's Jakob Fuglsang to get ahead of the peloton in the duel in the Pyrenees.
"I knew the last 30km quite well and I was lucky that Fuglsang came with me because I don't think I'd have survived," explained Dan, who said his legs were aching.
Mr Martin told how his 26-year-old Birmingham-born son had been hoping to do well in a stage of the 100th Tour de France and possibly claim a mountain jersey.
Now, he is up to eighth place, two minutes and 28 seconds behind Britain's Chris Froome, who is leading the Tour.
In 1990, the family brought Dan to watch a mountain stage of the legendary cycling race. "He was there as a 13-year-old starry-eyed kid. His dream was to ride and win a stage, it is just phenomenal. I'm sure dreams do come true," Mr Martin said.
They plan to travel to Paris to watch the Tour de France's finale, and hope their son manages to avoid any race spills before then.
Mr Martin also pointed out that bus and plane travel between stages was very tough. "It is a long day without riding the bike. It is something that would shatter us, never mind cycling 200km in the middle. It is a long day."
Dan's cousin, Irish Independent columnist Nicolas Roche, is in 44th spot.