The Irishman punctured in the final 10 kilometres after showing some attacking riding at La Doyenne
Dan Martin was sanguine after another bout of poor fortune saw him unable to compete for a second Liège-Bastogne-Liège crown on Sunday.
A front wheel puncture in the final 10 kilometres as the chasing group tried to bring back eventual winner Bob Jungels saw him drop out of contention and he was lucky in the end to finish 18th, 2-41 behind the Luxembourgish rider.
“Does anybody know where we can get some luck?” Martin said as he warmed down on the turbo trainer outside the UAE Team Emirates bus. “It’s been the same for the whole team this year.”
Martin and his team have suffered with poor luck all season, the Irishman himself struck down by illness at Paris-Nice and a heavy crash on the final day of the Volta a Catalunya.
At Flèche Wallonnne only last Wednesday he was caught behind a crash on the penultimate ascent of the Mur de Huy, ruining any opportunity of winning a race he has finished on the podium three times.
On Sunday, after making his own move just before Jungels’ winning effort at the top of the Côte de la Roche-Aux-Faucons, the penultimate climb of the day, Martin was also frustrated by the lack of cohesion in the chase.
“I expected the race to go there, that’s why I made the first move after the top of Faucons and Bob obviously chose the perfect moment.
“I knew the race was going up the road with Bob, especially when there’s no team-mates left,” continued Martin, one of the riders to attempt a pursuit.
“It was weird because Mitchelton-Scott would chase me down every time and then they would stop working. A couple of times me and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) got a way and then you look behind and there’s a Mitchelton-Scott jersey.
The race played out to a very different script from recent years when a larger group fought out the win on the final climb. The weather too did not read the script; where colder weather has recently accompanied the peloton, this year humidity and 24 degrees took their toll.
“It’s the first heat of the year and made it even more of a war of attrition. It was a brutal day out there. I think seven man teams makes a bit of a difference too.
“Obviously it’s still the strongest riders there at the end, but it was very strange because it wasn’t actually that aggressive, everybody was just empty. It’s probably the slowest we’ve done the Côte d’Ans [the final hill to the line] for a while.”
As opposed to Martin’s UAE Team Emirates outfit, Jungels’ Quick-Step team on the other had have been vastly successful, winning almost at will.
“It comes down to strength in numbers,” said Martin of the team he raced with for the last two seasons.
“They have confidence and team spirit and they’re racing free and without pressure. Our sponsors and our team are doing a great job of holding the pressure off us because obviously we haven’t had a great start to the year.”