The Making of Martínez

As the dust from his win at the prestigious Critérium du Dauphiné settles, we spoke to Bogotá-based climber Dani Martínez ahead of his second appearance in the Tour de France.

28 August 2020

This year’s Critérium du Dauphiné was one of those races every fan yearns for. A mountainside battle over a handful of seconds, ill-timed attacks, comebacks, and in the final stage, drama that turned the GC on its head.

As Dani Martínez – the 24-year-old Colombian tipped as a mini Rigoberto Urán – crossed the finish line in Megève, it took a while for the reality of this dramatic finish to sink in.

“I’m still so tired from the race, and still can’t quite believe that I’ve won,” he uttered starry eyed, sitting slumped in a chair with the iconic yellow jersey of race leader in his lap. “It’s one of the most amazing days of my life, it’s one of the most important races and I’m just so happy to have achieved it,” he said, blinking back the tears.

“We’ve had a few good training days, riding that positive wave that comes from a win.”

Nearly two weeks on from the biggest win of his career to date, Dani has been able to process those emotions whilst training with his teammates in Andorra, putting in the last few hours of hard graft ahead of the imminent Tour de France.

“We’ve had a few good training days, riding that positive wave that comes from a win, and recovering well,” he says whilst in transit to Nice, where cycling’s greatest show, the Tour de France, starts on Saturday.

The post-Dauphiné buzz is still very much alive and it’s clear it’s feeding the whole team a good dose of motivation ahead of the Tour. “It has definitely given me more confidence,” he says. “But we’re working very hard nonetheless – we want to perform as best we can in the Tour.”

“The whole team feels solid, I believe things are going to go well for us.”

It’s helpful he’s surrounded by experienced mentors such as Rigoberto Urán and Tour veterans Tejay van Garderen and Jens Keukeleire to keep him grounded. “The result at the Dauphiné was very good and it’s helping me take a more relaxed approach to the Tour. I can feel a good atmosphere amongst all my teammates, everyone looks very calm. The whole team just feels solid, so I believe things are going to go well for us.”

In that final Dauphiné stage, a little over a week and a half ago, the images on screen showed a controlled-looking Martínez calmly closing in on victory. Whilst those waiting at the finish line were anxiously fidgeting, watching those seconds being battled over, Martínez was as cool as ever. When he delves back into his memories of those moments, it’s interesting to hear what he recalls.

“Here’s to ill-timed attacks, comebacks, and riders battling it out for a mere handful of seconds.”

“Charly [Wegelius, EF Pro Cycling's Head Sports Director] never told me that Pinot was pulling so close behind me. He said: ‘Just close your eyes and give it all you’ve got till the finish line’. I had the last few grams of energy saved up for the last two or three kilometres,” he explains.

“I could hear him pushing and cheering me on through the radio, and when there was only one kilometre left I could hear him screaming: “To the end, to the end, give it all you have”.

Right up to its conclusion, this year’s Dauphiné gave fans a thrilling, down-to-the-wire watch – the kind we eagerly yearn for at this year’s Tour de France. The last-minute GC upset is the stuff television was made for, and as cycling’s biggest show unfolds over the next 21 days, we’re hoping for more of the same. Here’s to ill-timed attacks, comebacks, and riders battling it out for a mere handful of seconds.

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