Irish road rider Daniel Martin, from American team Garmin-Sharp, won the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race. The said race is the last in the Spring Classics and considered to be the oldest race in The Ardennes week.
Daniel Martin, a rider for U.S. team Garmin-Sharp, won the last race of the Spring Classics – the Liege-Bastogne-Liege. This is the first win of the Irishman in the Classics, and the third Liege-Bastogne-Liege win, since Sean Kelly’s last victorious finish in 1989. After more than a decade of waiting, a son of Ireland finally won the oldest of the Spring Classics again when Martin finished the race with just 6 hours, 38 minutes, and 7 seconds on the clock.
The other riders who placed on the event after Martin were Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver, who came in 3 seconds after Martin, and Alejandro Valverde Belmonte, who came in after 9 seconds, of Movistar Team. This makes the stage winners Belmonte in third, Rodriguez in second, and Martin in first.
According to the 26 year-old Irishman, it was among the easiest races he has ever won in his career. Earlier in the week, he also participated in the Flèche Wallonne race – also a part of the Spring Classics – but he lost to Katusha’s Daniel Moreno.
Martin was an expected favorite in the race, since he exhibited a strong performance and placed fourth in the Fleche Wallonia. The Irishman did not disappoint, as he gave the Irish cycling fans some reason to celebrate this week amidst controversies in their Cycling Union politics.
The win is probably not much of a surprise to some fans though, since Martin is actually the nephew of Stephen Roche, the 1987 Tour de France champion. Clearly, the will to excel in the sport is in his blood. However, the Irish did have some help in the win as his team-mate Ryder Hesjedal assisted Martin by setting up the final attack on the second-to-the-last climb of the race and helped on the chase in the final stages in Ans. Martin certainly had some great assistance from Canadian Hesjedal, since he also won Giro distalia in 2012.
Hesjedal prepared the last leg for Martin’s win by protecting Martin, as they chased the other teams aiming to get the last Spring Classics win this year. When their team went head to head with Spain’s Katusha team, Martin sped up – probably wearing out his ride’s bicycle parts – and successfully wrestled the win from Spanish rider Rodriguez.
About his win, Martin said, “I can’t believe it, I’m really in shock.” He added, “I’ve never seen the team ride so strong – they kept me protected all day. It felt like one of the easiest races I’ve ever did. It really is incredible, I’m so happy.”
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