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Martin risks missing another Tour de France

Irish climber crashes hard at the Dauphiné, jeopardizing yet another Tour start

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SAINT-FÉLICIEN, France (VN) — Dan Martin may miss another chance to ride the Tour de France after crashing on Monday at the Critérium du Dauphiné. The Garmin-Barracuda rider misjudged a roundabout in the race’s first stage and slid into a curb. He climbed back on his bike and finished, but with only 25 days until the start of the Tour, the crash may be detrimental.

“Until I start the prologue,” he told VeloNews, “I’m not riding the Tour de France.”

The Irish rider has been close before. In 2009, he placed second in the Volta a Catalunya and was given the green light to race the Tour. However, knee tendonitis forced him out only two days before the grand départ. Last year, he again placed second in Catalunya and won the Giro della Toscana, but just missed the team’s cut.

He hopes it not the same again this year. He placed fourth in Catalunya, sixth in Flèche Wallonne and fifth in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but suffered a blow yesterday in Moras-en-Valloire. With just under 29km to race, he crashed with others, including Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge).

Before talking about his condition with VeloNews this morning, Martin wanted to complete his first ride. A spin to and from the sign-in podium confirmed he could continue in the race.

“It’s always difficult to see if there’s anything wrong there, we were looking more at the scapula,” he said, with argyle-bandages on his right side. “It feels more muscular to me, ligaments, which could possibly be worse. We will see how it goes, but it’s always hard for a climber to stay seated the whole time. It’s as if I’m riding out of the saddle almost all of the time. It’s going to be interesting for me. My form is really good. I hope to just get through today, finish and then every day should get better.”

If everything does get better, Martin has a realistic shot at making his debut in the Tour. He’s already raced in the other grand tours, placing 13th in the Vuelta a España last year and winning one of the first mountain stages to the Sierra de Béjar ski resort.

Martin prefers to avoid talking about what’s possible in the Tour because he wants to wait until he actually has a race number on his back in Liège, Belgium, on June 30. If he is there, then there are several mountain stages along the way through the Alps and Pyrénées that may suit him.

“I just want to get there first. People have been saying since [the Ardennes classics], with my results, I should be going to the Tour. After last year and in 2009…” he continued. Pressed, Martin added, “There are plenty of opportunities for stages, and maybe even the mountain jersey.”