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France’s Olympic and world cross-country mountain bike champion in 2000, Miguel Martinez has said that he’s been dressing in red since his 20-year-old son Lenny took the race leader’s jersey at the Vuelta a España on Thursday’s sixth stage.
"I’m not just a father, I’m such a fan of his," the former MTB star said on French Eurosport‘s Les Rois de la Pédale show. "He’s been so amazing that I’ve even dressed up in red."
Martinez, who raced on the road for Mapei and Phonak two decades ago and made a return to the sport with the Italian Amore e Vita as recently as 2020 at the age of 44, explained that the Vuelta has been his son’s principal goal since the start of this season.
"We did some preparation at altitude in July. He was at Val Thorens and then Tignes. It’s true that we were waiting to see what he was capable of because the Vuelta was his objective this year, not the Ventoux race, and not the first part of the season," Martinez said of Groupama-FDJ’s Vuelta leader, who won the Mont Ventoux Dénivélé race in June.
"I know that when Lenny has a goal in mind, he becomes so focused because he wants to succeed and at the moment he’s doing things exactly how he wants," explained the ex-MTB star, who was kitted out in a red polo shirt.
"What he did with his attack, having the nerve to get into the breakaway group when he was third overall, very clearly showed Lenny’s temperament and what he’s capable of achieving."
Martinez said that since his son took the Vuelta lead he’s been encouraging him to maintain his focus on his overriding goal, which is to finish as high as possible in the overall classification on what is the 20-year-old Frenchman’s Grand Tour debut.
"It's not over yet and he’s now entering a new world where he’s a focus for the media and is right at the top," said the proud dad. "He's doing really well at the moment, and it’s great."
Following Lenny Martinez’s birth, he grew up with his mother on France’s Côte d’Azur. In his teenage years, he began to spend more with his father, who lives in the Nièvre region in the heart of the country.
"It was when I went to my father’s at the age of 14 that I really started to get into cycling," the Groupama-FDJ told L’Équipe. "I was always immersed in that milieu with my family and, as a consequence, it was something that came naturally to me."
Martinez senior, whose own father Mariano was the King of the Mountains champion at the 1978 Tour de France, confessed on the Eurosport show that he’d had an inkling that something special might happen to his son at the Vuelta.
"He used to make little photos where he’d photoshop his head on to an image and two years ago he sent me one that said, 'Look, I’m leading the Vuelta.' I need to find that photo again because he imagined himself in this situation two years ago," said Martinez Sr. "He’s in the process of realising all that now."
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Peter Cossins has been writing about professional cycling since 1993, with his reporting appearing in numerous publications and websites including Cycling Weekly, Cycle Sport and Procycling - which he edited from 2006 to 2009. Peter is the author of several books on cycling - The Monuments, his history of cycling's five greatest one-day Classic races, was published in 2014, followed in 2015 by Alpe d’Huez, an appraisal of cycling’s greatest climb. Yellow Jersey - his celebration of the iconic Tour de France winner's jersey won the 2020 Telegraph Sports Book Awards Cycling Book of the Year Award.
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