He’s been proven correct through eight days of racing.
Saturday’s eighth stage was a down day for Martin. He crashed with around 15 kilometers left to race in an otherwise straightforward sprinter’s stage, and despite a concerted effort from his UAE Team Emirates team to help pull him back to the peloton, he finished 1:16 down on stage winner Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) and, more importantly, his GC rivals.
Martin rolled across the line with a blooded elbow and lower back bruises visible through a torn section of his jersey.
“I’m ripped to pieces. I landed on my bike,” Martin said after a post-stage medical checkup.
Fortunately for the Irishman, he came away from a visit to the X-ray truck with some good news.
“I’ve felt better,” he said, “but it’s not as bad as I feared. There’s nothing broken.”
The crash happened in the middle of the pack as the peloton was closing in on the early break and winding up for a sprint finish.
“I was one of the first to crash,” Martin said. “Someone braked in front of me, turned right and took my front wheel away. I couldn’t do anything.”
The incident saw several other riders go down as well, including Quick-Step’s Julian Alaphilippe. Martin looked to be one of the worst off.
“It’s a Tour de France crash. Too many people trying to go down the same road,” UAE’s Rory Sutherland said after the stage. “The main thing for us was to get him back on the bike and make it to the finish, and he made it to the finish. I think if anyone saw last year’s Tour, you realize how hard the guy is so we’ll see how it goes now.”
Indeed, Martin did benefit from a rapid response by a collection of UAE teammates. In that respect, he’ll be glad he signed on with UAE this offseason, as he now enjoys more of a featured GC role in the grand tours than he did with Quick-Step, a team that tends to focus more on stage victories in the three-week races.
Without the stable of domestiques hammering out a healthy pace in pursuit of the pack, Martin would have likely lost much more time on Saturday. Still, sustaining a time loss of over a minute and possibly some injuries was probably not what Martin had in mind for the sprinter-friendly eighth stage.
At the very least, the crash validates Martin’s win-some-lose-some mantra yet again.
Stage 1 was a “win some” stage, with Martin picking up 51 seconds on defending Tour champion Chris Froome (Sky) and BMC’s Richie Porte, and 1:51 on Nairo Quintana (Movistar), simply by staying safe in the peloton. Stage 3 was a “lose some” day, with UAE Team Emirates finishing the team time trial 1:39 down on stage winner BMC Racing.
Thursday’s stage 6 was a huge “win some” day for Martin that saw him storm to victory atop the Mûr-de-Bretagne climb, marking his first win in UAE kit. His banner day in Brittany also saw him make strides in the general classification — but just two days later he’s back in the “lose some” column, and potentially in a major way depending on his physical status after the hard fall.
Stage 8 saw Martin drop to 31st overall, 2:47 down on yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). It is at least some consolation that Froome, Porte, and Quintana are not quite as far ahead, but Martin still has a lot of ground to make up in the mountains — and that’s assuming he makes it there without losing more time.
The mini-Paris-Roubaix that awaits on Sunday was always going to be a big challenge for the slender Martin, who said even before his crash that stage 9 would be “brutal.” The pavé is not his favored terrain, to put it mildly.
Even if he gets an all-clear from the team doctor, Martin will now start the 156.5-kilometer trek from Arras Citadelle to Roubaix with a number of bruises and scrapes, and that’s going to make an already challenging day that much more challenging.
With his team’s GC leader likely in pain from “feet to head,” Maduit put it bluntly: “It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow for sure.”