The Irishman capped off a tumultuous race for his Israel Start-Up Nation team with a memorable stage victory, winning on Sega di Ala from the breakaway.
Speaking after the finish, Martin said: “The shake of the head there at the end showed I really didn’t believe it was happening. The race has been a rollercoaster for us as a team.
“Our spirit has always been amazing. We’ve always had a great team atmosphere and that showed this morning. We had a plan to put me in the breakaway and everybody worked for that, everybody played a part in this. I didn’t think it was going to happen for a bit with the strong headwind, it killed the speed in the breakaway and it killed our legs, but somehow I managed to hold on.”
Israel Start-Up Nation have had a bittersweet Giro d’Italia, after they lost their first rider Krists Neilands after the finish of the opening day, when he crashed on his way to the team hotel.
The squad then held the maglia rosa for a brief period with Alessandro De Marchi, before the Italian suffered serious injuries in a crash and was forced to abandon.
Alex Dowsett then left the race, as Martin’s general classification hopes also collapsed during the course of the race.
But the Israel WorldTour squad had reason to celebrate again after stage 17, as Martin made it into the day’s breakaway, went solo on the final climb and held off the surging GC group behind to win the stage.
He said: “That’s what I came here for, to try and win a stage.
“I knew today was one of the last opportunities. I knew with the time I lost the day before the rest day it was possible to go in the breakaway, to do it is incredible.
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