Tony Martin delays comeback over fears of further damaging neck injury

Martin is back training on the road but has taken medical advice to delay a return to competition

Tony Martin in the 2018 Giro d'Italia stage 16 time trial (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) has chosen to delay his comeback to competition after medical advice that he could do severe damage to his neck injury if he crashed again.

The German crashed in an incident involving Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) on stage eight of the Tour de France in the final 17km, being thrown over his handlebars and landing on his head. It initially looked as though he had just suffered a badly gashed lip, but scans later revealed a cervical vertebra fracture.

Martin then spent several weeks off the bike while he rested and had rehabilitation, and was recently given the go ahead to begin training on the road again. The 33-year-old said on his Facebook page in a statement that he has been warned against returning to competition too soon, with his next appearance scheduled for the four-day Deutschland Tour from August 23 to 26.

The four-time world time trial champion said it "would be fatal if I crashed on my back again and did even worse damage" after returning too soon, and has accepted doctor advice to continue to sit out of racing for now.

"I have some good and some not-so-good news for you today," Martin said in a statement on Monday night.

"First the good news: I am back on the bike and the doctors gave me the green light to train on the road again. The healing process is going well. And I have let myself be tortured by our team osteopath in Munich for the last four days. I also have some exercises to do at home, to continue working on my stability. I am feeling good about my comeback.

"Now the not-so-good news: My comeback will unfortunately be delayed. The doctors have advised me against a start at the Deutschland Tour. It really hurts me, that I can’t be there.

"But I didn’t argue about and accepted their advice. It would be fatal if I crashed on my back again and did even worse damage. We professional athletes are aware that we have to accept a lot of risks. That’s just the way it is. But we must not overdo it. I am responsible not only for myself and my body, but also for my family."

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