Cycling

Could Dan Martin Be Set For A Podium Finish In The Tour De France?

Could Dan Martin Be Set For A Podium Finish In The Tour De France?

Dan Martin is on course to record the best finish of an Irish cyclist in the Tour de France since his uncle Stephen Roche won the race in 1987.

Last Sunday, the 30-year-old was involved in one of the worst crashes of this year's Tour, one that saw one of the pre-race favourites Richie Porte exit the race. Porte fractured a hip and a collarbone, while Martin, though hurt, was able to continue despite losing time on the leaders.

In last Sunday's Stage 9, Martin lost one minute and fifteen seconds on the leaders as a result of the crash. Descending the Mont du Chat, the Quick-Step Floors rider was with the leaders, but the crash could have easily dented his yellow jersey chances.

Since then though, Martin has chipped away at the time gap earned by the leaders as he looks to become the first Irish cyclist to reach the podium on the Champs Elysees since Roche's win 30 years ago.

At the start of Thursday's Stage 11, Martin was 1'44" behind Fabio Aru, but since then he has consistently cut away at the yellow jersey leader. By the end of Thursday's stage that gap was cut by a further three seconds.

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Friday's stage saw the Birmingham-born rider close the gap by a further nine seconds on the likes Aru and Chris Froome.

Saturday's stage saw Martin close the gap by another 14 seconds. He finished level with Froome, who took over the yellow jersey from Aru in Rodez.

Ahead of Monday's second rest day, Martin saw one final opportunity to lessen the gap, and he did so by finishing 14 seconds clear of Froome on Sunday's stage.

Last Sunday, the chances of a Tour de France podium finish for Dan Martin seemed all but over. For four successive days, he has cut away at the time lost last weekend and is now in fifth place, just 1' 12" behind Froome, and 49 seconds behind third-placed Roman Bardet.

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Despite the encouraging week, Martin is clearly struggling in the aftermath of his crash. After Friday's stage, television cameras showed the Irish cyclist struggling to get off his bike, and was "bent over like a 60-year-old".

With six stages to go, including a time-trial at Marseille's Velodrome and the processional finish in Paris, Martin has realistically just two mountains stages in the Pyrennes to force his way onto the podium in Paris.

Last year, he finished in ninth place, and is on course to beat that this year, health permitting. Despite the crash, he is living up to his pre-Tour form and will fancy his chances of finishing in the top-three come next Sunday evening.

Martin remains one of Ireland's best sportsman on the international stage, but he is relatively unknown on home shores. A successful final week in the south of France could change that.

SEE ALSO: Dan Martin Involved In Major Crash At Tour De France

Daniel Kelly

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