Dan Martin says he shook his head at finish of stage 17 of Giro d’Italia because he ‘didn’t believe it was happening’

The Irishman completed the set of Grand Tour stage wins

Dan Martin wins stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Dan Martin said he shook his head at the finish line of stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia because he didn’t believe the stage victory was happening.

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. 

Martin now has a full set of Grand Tour stage wins, adding the Giro to his tally of two Tour de France victories and two in the Vuelta a España. 

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.

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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.