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Fractured vertebrae didn’t stop Dan Martin from finishing sixth at Tour

Irishman Dan Martin earned his best overall result in the Tour de France, sixth place this July. The crazy thing is, he rode more than half of the race with two fractured vertebrae.

Martin made a name for himself in the hilly one-day classics. He won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2013. The next year, still riding for American team Garmin-Sharp, he won Il Lombardia.

However, in the last few years, the five-foot-six climber began to gear up for grand tour GC, riding with Belgian team Quick-Step Floors. In 2016, he rode to ninth overall in the Tour de France. Prior to that, his best GC result was seventh at the 2014 Vuelta a España.

So when the Tour de France revealed an unconventional 2017 route that might favor punchy, aggressive riders, many tipped Martin as an outside favorite.

As anticipated, Martin went on the attack often. What he hadn’t planned on was the crash in stage 9.

“Most guys would probably end up in the hospital for a few weeks after that crash,” his team director Brian Holm said. “He has survived and now gets better.”

Once the Tour was over, Quick-Step revealed the 30-year-old had two small transverse process fracture to the L2 and L3 vertebrae.

“During the Tour I didn’t have any problems when racing, but off the bike I wasn’t feeling very comfortable, so this week I did a scan and got the news. It’s a real pity I won’t ride San Sebastian, because the legs were there and it’s a race I like, but fortunately this injury isn’t something to worry about,” said Martin.

Instead, for Saturday’s Clasica San Sebastian WorldTour race, Quick-Step will lean on Philippe Gilbert. The Belgian won Tour of Flanders and Amstel Gold Race this spring. Italian climber Gianluca Brambilla will be another card to play in the hilly Spanish race.

“There’s nothing else I can do, just rest and then build up for the final part of the season,” Martin added.

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