Daniel Martin courts King of the Mountains jersey

Daniel Martin, Tour de France 2012, stage eight

"It's been an experience," Daniel Martin said, reflecting on a frenetic first week at the Tour outside the team bus after Sunday's seventh stage to Porrentruy.

That's an understatement. As the Tour pauses for breath on today's rest day in Macon, the management of Garmin-Sharp will reflect on an opening to the Tour where little seemed to go right.

The team is already down to six after crashes took Tom Danielson, Ryder Hesjedal and Robbie Hunter out of the race. Sprinter Tyler Farrar fell five times in eight days, taking his frustration out on Tom Veelers.

In between the falls, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie and Jonathan Vaughters were exposed to the full glare of the media spotlight last Wednesday after allegations of six-month bans for co-operating in the USADA case.

Outside the race, Danish rider Alex Rasmussen was banned for eighteen months and fired from the team for missing three whereabouts tests.

"We're pretty banged up, I've got to get over this cold at the moment... We're still here and still standing," Martin said.

All considered, slender climber Martin has done well to avoid both scrapes and scandal. He reckoned that he and David Zabriskie are the only team mebers who have stayed out of crashes.

How's team morale? "Shit happens. You've got to get on with it, keep going and get motivated. There's still two weeks of racing left," Martin said.

Martin ready to attack the high mountains

The planned rally will start after today's rest day in Macon, and Martin is looking forward to testing himself in the Tour's high mountains for the first time.

He was one of the best climbers in last year's Vuelta, winning a stage on La Covatilla ahead of the likes of Tour protagonists Wiggins, Froome, Nibali and Menchov.

Sitting 67th overall, 32-03 down on race leader Wiggins, he certainly has a big enough deficit to be given leeway in an escape as the race hits the Alps.

Is Martin aiming for the King of the Mountains jersey too? "You've got to be lucky, get in the right breakaway and have the legs as well. So, it's a really complicated jersey to win, but obviously I'll try and win it," Martin said.

The withdrawals of Garmin GC men and crash victims Tom Danielson and Ryder Hesjedal have given Martin a freer hand in the high mountains than he anticipated.

The 25 year old has already felt the support of his teammates, chasing for him on the approach to La Planche des Belles Filles on stage seven.

"It was incredible the guys rode for me, giving me confidence, even though I had a bit of a cold. I still finished in the top twenty [seventeenth], it's probably something for the future," he reflected.

Related links

Vaughters denies that Garmin riders will be suspended by USADAGarmin-Sharp terminate contract with Alex RasmussenMartin to lead Garmin-Sharp in Tour mountainsDaniel Martin: rider profile

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