Miguel Martinez followed the script of fellow world champion Marga Fullana in the Sarentino, Italy World Cup, but in more gripping fashion. The 115-pound Full Dynamix rider closed a 23-second gap on 162-pound Roland Green (Trek-Volkswagen) on the last lap and then outsprinted the Canadian after playing cat and mouse for the last kilometer. Like Fullana, Martinez swept the time trial and the cross country, while Green and Specialized’s Barbara Blatter finished second in both races.
A lead group of seven had stayed together throughout most of the race, but when Bas Van Dooren (Specialized) crashed in the tough drops the second-to-last time through the “Double S” technical section, Green scooted by while the others were delayed. The Victoria, B.C. native kept hammering up the climbs and across the two-kilometer long flat to the finish and opened a 23-second gap at the beginning of the seventh and final lap.
Martinez was biding his time in the chase group, which did not organize a united pursuit on the flat dirt road. Van Dooren got back on, but his teammate Filip Meirhaeghe came off the back with World Cup leader Jose Antonio Hermida (Bianchi-Motorex) at the start of the last lap. Martinez attacked the remainders, namely Van Dooren, Bart Brentjens (Giant) and Marco Bui (Marin-Helly Hansen) halfway up the first climb and never looked back. Green knew the tiny Frenchman was coming but could not pick up the pace enough to hold him off and was caught with two kilometers to go.
Having an Italian sponsor and living in Italy, Martinez had been aiming for this race for some time and was super-motivated. It looked like he would be thwarted when, while riding in the lead group of seven on the fourth lap, he crashed face first off a big rock drop in the “Double-S” technical section and landed hard on his chest. His rainbow jersey was covered with dust, but he clearly was not having any trouble breathing when he needed to catch Green. The Canadian had stopped and stepped around the fallen Martinez and said later, “I didn’t figure it would slow him down. He’s too light to hurt himself.”