“Never been about the results, but the performance and enjoyment”
ISN’s Irish rider has won stages in all three Grand Tours
Praises “family atmosphere at ISN”
Adams: “Pro cycling will miss your signature courageous racing style”
How do you know when it’s time to stop? Dan Martin knows. “I made the best of every period of my career, lived an amazing life but also kept a promise that I made to myself. That as soon as it stopped being fun I would stop. Cycling has never been about results for me, it’s been about the performance and enjoyment.”
With that, the Israel Start-Up Nation rider will ride his last professional race on Saturday, October 9 — Il Lombardia, which he won in 2014. We are proud that he has spent his last two years with us, even if they have been two unusual years, with Covid and injuries having major effects on him and on pro cycling in general.
It may not be “about results” for Dan, but he has some great results to look back on. He may have had “only” two wins for ISN, but what wins they were! In 2020 he took a stage win at the Vuelta a Espana, his first ever in that race. A well-time uphill sprint saw him take the win ahead of none other than Primoz Roglic and Richard Carapaz.
This year he stormed his way up the closing climb on Stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia, in a solo attack out of the day’s break group. And that after having suffered from Covid only a few months earlier.
That win elevated him into the ranks of those who have won stages in all three Grand Tours. He can look back on two stage wins each in the Tour de France (2013, 2018) and the Vuelta a Espana (2011, 2021)) and now also one in the Giro.
It was a day he will never forget, calling it “a special moment in my life here at ISN and also in my career. The happiness and joy it brought to all the people in the team, but also the way I managed to win. It was a special day all around as we made a plan and pulled it off.
“It was the first time since the lockdown that we had really big crowds on the climb and to be climbing through hundreds of screaming fans was one of those moments that still gives me goosebumps. Plus the fact I completed the trilogy of GT stage wins. It was incredibly satisfying.”
Looking over his career as a whole, he says “I’m most proud of how I managed to maintain a constant level of performance and commitment throughout not just seasons, but for so many years. I think it shows that I just love racing my bike. I love the process of training and aiming for an objective.”
However, he adds, “I don’t think you can look back in this sport. That’s how I have stayed fresh so long. However a race goes, good or bad, it’s important to turn the page and refocus. Having said that, if I could take all the lessons I have learnt and rewind to 10 years ago, I could have been so much more successful but the same goes for everybody. The sport has just advanced leaps and bounds the last years and become ever so competitive.”
Dan knows what he will and won’t miss about his soon-to-be-former life. “The thing I will miss the most is the camaraderie and vibe with my teammates. It’s one of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about ISN is the family atmosphere and the fun we have at the races but also that feeling of being together and helping each other work towards a common goal.
“Obviously there are so many things I will not miss, that’s why I’m retiring. The time away from home, the sacrifice, but then the less obvious things like the constant scrutiny we put ourselves under; the worry of getting sick or if your nutrition is good, if your training is good, how the races will go. The mental side of the sport is still massively underestimated. Then of course watching the last races in the rain: that’s something I will definitely not miss 😂”
He has big plans for his future. “During the last few off-seasons and when I’ve had time outside of training and racing, I have found a new sense of purpose and fun in developing companies and working within businesses. This interest led to Rubix Ventures, a company I co-founded with trusted contacts, to help athletes invest in exciting growth companies.”
Even more importantly, “I’m also looking forward to being more present as a father and husband at home and doing some simple things that are not compatible with the requirements of a cycling career, like going for a run with my wife.”
Those runs, by the way, will be in Andorra, where he has lived for several years with his wife and three-year-old twin daughters. “We are really happy there and our life is there.”
“Dan crowned his career these last two years with ISN, re-discovering his joy for racing,” said team co-owner Sylvan Adams. “This showed in his results, with his biggest achievements being a Grand Tour GC career best of 4th at last year’s Vuelta including a stage win, and his epic stage win at this year’s Giro. But more importantly, Dan’s contributions as a loyal teammate and mentor to our younger riders proved invaluable to our start-up team.
“And, for me personally, I will always appreciate Dan, as a friend. So, congrats Dan, for a great career. Pro cycling will miss your signature courageous racing style. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement.”
Dan certainly comes from a cycling family. His father was a professional cyclist, and his mother is the sister of former great Stephen Roche. His cousin Nicholas Roche is also a long-time pro rider, who is coincidentally also retiring at the end of this season.
He got his career off to a good start early, winning the British under-18 road championship in 2004 before changing to the Irish team two years later.
Dan turned pro in 2008 with Slipstream-Chipotle, where he stayed for seven years. Whilst there he brought in stage wins at the Tour and the Vuelta, and won two Classics, Il Lombardia and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
From there he spent two years each at Deceunink-QuickStep and UAE Emirates, before joining ISN in 2020.