In this month’s Cycle Sport Ed Pickering takes a look back at 2013 to see what caught his eye this season.
DAN MARTIN: VERY GOOD AT RACING HIS BIKE
He rides his bike as if he’s trying to put a duvet back in its cover while getting poked in the backside with a toasting fork, but Dan Martin achieved his best results ever in 2013 with wins in the Tour of Catalonia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, plus a Tour de France stage.
The Irishman is one of the most exciting riders in the peloton – his wins are invariably hard-fought, usually in the toughest territory. But there’s always a tactical angle to them, too.
He’s got the physical attributes to hide away and ride negatively if he wanted to – his fourth place in Flèche Wallonne proves that there are few faster riders in an uphill sprint. But he’s happiest when he’s attacking. However, his attacks aren’t in the reckless vein of the doomed early break in a Tour stage.
Instead, he engineers tactical advantage for himself by saving his attacks for the final quarter of the race, when his rivals’ teams’ ability to chase him is much reduced.
His Doyenne victory was a cool-headed tactical coup by Garmin – he had Ryder Hesjedal for company towards the finish, and the Canadian attacked alone, drawing out a tiring pursuit, then worked hard to keep the race together once he’d been caught. Martin didn’t panic up the finishing climb, and jumped to join a hard attack by Joaquim Rodriguez, then disposed of him in the sprint.
At Catalonia, Hesjedal and Martin rode a textbook race – both infiltrated a large break, then Hesjedal sacrificed himself to keep Martin clear of the Movistar and Sky-led chase to the final climb, where the Irishman held off his pursuers with enough time to clinch the GC. The Tour stage win, on the second Pyrenean stage, was a masterpiece of attacking verve from Garmin, with Martin able to go away from a much-reduced lead group with Jakob Fuglsang on the final climb and outsprint him at the finish.
A Grand Tour GC bid may be possible on the right route, but if Martin does decide that’s where his career is going to take him, let’s hope it doesn’t cramp his exciting style.
WEIRD STAT OF THE YEAR
Sky didn’t win a single one-day race in 2013
PETER SAGAN: NOT VERY GOOD AT WINNING RACES
Our headline is tongue-in-cheek. Peter Sagan is actually very good at winning races, as he has demonstrated 22 times this year, and 58 times in total. But he’s less good at converting high placings into wins in the major one-day races. Here’s a look at his reasons why…
2010 GP Plouay | 7th | Excuse: I was only 20.
2010 GP de Montreal | 2nd | Excuse: Gesink got away on the climb. I won the sprint behind.
2012 Milan-San Remo | 4th | Excuse: My team-mate Nibali was in the break so I couldn’t chase. I won the sprint behind.
2012 Ghent-Wevelgem | 2nd | Excuse: I wasted energy following an attack by Cancellara in the final 25 kilometres and got beaten in the sprint by Boonen.
2012 Tour of Flanders | 5th | Excuse: I missed the break by Boonen, Pozzato and Ballan, and wasted energy chasing.
2012 Amstel Gold Race | 3rd | Excuse: I mistimed the sprint up the Cauberg.
2013 Strade Bianche | 2nd | Excuse: My team-mate Moreno Moser was up the road. I won the sprint behind.
2013 Milan-San Remo | 2nd | Excuse: I based my race on sticking to Fabian Cancellara, and forgot that we’d both towed Gerald Ciolek to the finish.
2013 E3 Prijs | 2nd | Excuse: I forgot to follow Fabian Cancellara when he attacked. I won the sprint behind.
2013 Ghent-Wevelgem | 1st | Excuse: Can you stop poking fun at my placings now, please?
2013 Tour of Flanders | 2nd | Excuse: I couldn’t follow Cancellara when he attacked. I won the sprint behind.