Friday 15 December 2017

Cycling: Martin joins Roche in Tour line-up

For the first time since the retirement of Sean Kelly and Stephen Roche in the early '90s, Ireland will have two starters in this year's Tour de France, writes Gerard Cromwell.

Nicolas Roche had already been selected by his French Ag2r La Mondiale team before last week's Tour de Suisse, and his cousin Dan Martin was yesterday confirmed as part of the Garmin Barracuda squad for the three-week stage race.

Martin, who crashed at the recent Criterium du Dauphine, is the highest-ranked Irish professional, 20th in the UCI standings this week, and has already won a Grand Tour stage, at the Vuelta Espana last year.

The 25-year-old nephew of 1987 winner Stephen Roche, who was due to debut at the Tour back in 2009 only to be forced out a couple of days before with a knee injury, has had a fine start to the season, with fourth overall at the Tour of Catalunya followed by fifth at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and sixth at Fleche Wallone.

He has opted not to ride this weekend's national road race championships in Clonmel in an effort to be fit and ready for next weekend's Tour start in Liege.

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