Last week, Dan Martin finished sixth in the Tour de France.
The result was the best by an Irish rider in 30 years. Not since Martin's uncle Stephen Roche won the race in 1987 had an Irish rider finished so highly in the General Classification.
Martin's feat was impressive enough as it was, but it has since been revealed that he rode with two small fractures to his vertebrae. He cycled with a broken back!
On Stage 9, the 30-year-old crashed with rival Richie Porte. The Australian was forced to withdraw from the race, but Martin remounted his bike and completed the stage. For the remaining fortnight of the Tour, he struggled with his back, despite impressive performances.
— Eurosport (@eurosport) July 15, 2017
On Thursday, Martin's Quick-Step team revealed the extent of his injury, when announcing their team for a forthcoming race in Spain.
Dan Martin was also supposed to race San Sebastian, but after a medical examination revealed two small transverse process fracture to the L2 and L3 vertebrae, he will be sidelined for the next three weeks, during which the 30-year-old Irishman will need to rest and recover before returning to action.
Two small fractures in the lower back would leave most athletes in a bed resting. Martin (and most cyclists for that matter) are not just any athletes though.
The ability of a cyclist to work through a pain barrier remains a sight to behold. Countless times in the Tour de France, a rider will crash in the opening week and struggle their way around the country until they reach the finish line in Paris.
Martin did struggle, but he somehow recorded his best ever finish in one of cycling's Grand Tours. Once the diagnosis was made public, Martin took to Twitter to comment on his predicament.
Diagnosis of 2 small fracture took me by surprise. Shows how powerful the mind is in pushing through. No wonder I couldn't stand up straight
The injury also rules him out of next month's Vuelta in Spain. Three years ago, he finished seventh in the race.