Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is hoping to salvage what’s been a virtually disastrous season with a gold medal at next week’s world championships.
Take away Martin’s well-deserved silver medal from the time trial at the London Games, and just about everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong this season.
From broken bones to untimely punctures to collisions with cars, it seems like Martin cannot get a break, at least not the right kind. He’s hoping the worlds will put a positive end on what’s largely been a frustrating season.
“I have had a lot of bad luck. It was a lot of up and downs, it was hard to keep the morale high,” Martin told VeloNews.com. “After some bad luck, I have come back — now I am optimistic I can come back one more time for the worlds.”
Last year, Martin seemingly could do no wrong. He won nearly every major time trial he started, taking down archrival Fabian Cancellara in the Tour de France and the world championship.
Martin also won overall titles at Tour of the Algarve, Paris-Nice and the Tour of Beijing, and took second at Tour de Romandie, in what was by far his most successful season since turning pro in 2005.
Just as the 27-year-old was blessed in 2011, Martin seems cursed this year.
Team boss Patrick Lefevere said Martin’s bad luck seemed to have no end in 2012.
“He’s always had bad luck this year,” Lefevere told VeloNews. “He lost the time trial to (Bradley) Wiggins at Algarve because a dog ran across the road. Then he was struck by a car while training and fractured his face three times. He came back for the Tour, punctured in the prologue and broke his scaphoid. Then we lost the Eneco tour TT by seven-tenths of a second. Then he came second to Wiggins at the Olympics. It’s very hard to beat this British track rider. Maybe he has luck now in the worlds.”
Martin put a temporary end to the frustration with a season-saving silver medal at the Olympics. After injuring his hand at the Tour, he decided to pull the plug early in the Tour to give his body a full chance at recovery in time for London.
While Wiggins outclassed him on home roads with the form of his life, Martin still brought home silver.
“It was important to earn a medal at the Olympics,” Martin said. “It’s better to win, but at the Olympics, any medal is good. I am very pleased about that.”
With both Wiggins and Cancellara skipping worlds, Martin will line up as the red-hot favorite to repeat his world title next week.
Martin raced the Vuelta for that exact purpose, pulling out in the final weekend after riding into a few breakaways, including a second place at the Valdezcaray climbing stage in stage 4.
“I tried every day to go into the breakaway, but without going too hard. This Vuelta is good training for the worlds,” Martin said. “Defending the world title is the big goal right now.”
For Martin, putting a winning touch on 2012 would be an ideal way to leave the season in the rearview mirror for good.