As the Garmin riders rolled towards the team presentation on their Felt bikes, Dan Martin was walking a little way behind them, pulling a wheeled suitcase, heading for home. His debut Tour de France cut short by tendonitis before it had even begun.
When Cycling Weekly spotted him, the Birmingham-born rider was philosophical about having to pull out of the race but admitted: “It’s a bit harsh to come down here and see what it’s all about but not be able to do the race.”
Martin finished second in the Tour of Catalonia in May but hurt his wrist in a crash at the Dauphiné Libéré last month. A routine visit to a chiropractor in Spain sorted his wrist, but, Martin said, has knocked him out of kilter.
“I’ve been able to ride,” he said. “I did three hours today, but I’m in pain. Something’s not right with my right knee.
“I could have started the Tour and pulled out because it’s only me who knows how painful it is. I reckon I could have done ten days, but then again it could have flared up and been only two days.
“But it’s disrespectful to the team and to the other guys, so I told the management about it. We had kept it quiet because we’d hoped it would get better. It hasn’t been getting worse, so we assumed it’d be better, but it’s not going to be right in time.
“It was my decision to pull out, and it feels like the right one. You can’t start your first Tour de France without being 100 per cent fit.
“In a funny way, it may help me for the future. I left home on Monday and it’s Thursday now but it feels like I’ve been here a week already. And there’s still two days to go. It’s an absolutely massive event. We were at the hotel last night and there were TV crews everywhere. If nothing else, I’ve experienced what it’s all about.”
Martin said he planned to meet his parents, who were heading to Monaco to watch the opening time trial. “I haven’t seen them since December, so that’ll be nice.”
He said he hoped a period of rest would ease the pain in his knee, and that he would now focus on the Vuelta a Espana.
“To be honest I was always a little unsure of the Tour de France being my first grand tour. No one does the Tour de France first, so maybe it’s worked out for the best,” he said.
“I’ll do the Tour of Poland then go to the Vuelta a Espana and give it everything. I want to race hard every day and see how it ends up.”