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Garmin’s Martin limping his way to Paris after stage 9 victory

LE GRAND-BORNAND, France (VN) — Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) is suffering though the final days of the Tour de France. The Irishman, who won the stage to Bagnères-de-Bigorre nearly two weeks ago, dropped out of the top 10 yesterday going up l’Alpe d’Huez.

“Dan is disappointed, obviously, but in a way I’m quite glad that he lost so much time instead of losing a little bit of time and having doubts,” Garmin sports director Charly Wegelius told VeloNews Friday morning. “Like that, he can put his mind at rest that he really did his best and that there was nothing to do about it.”

The sun warmed the valley below l’Alpe d’Huez in Bourg-d’Oisans this morning but did little for Martin’s spirits.

“I’m pretty bad off,” he told VeloNews. He added, however, “I’m not abandoning.”

The kick that saw him win stage 9 is gone. Martin noticed a little something missing in the mountain time trial to Chorges on Wednesday.

On the bus, he felt everything would be fine but noticed on the road to l’Alpe d’Huez that he lacked that zip in his legs. Instead of starting the legendary climb at the front, he hovered around the back.

Martin finished more than 25 minutes behind stage winner Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale). He dropped nine places in the GC, from 10th to 19th.

Wegelius said a top-10 GC result was welcomed but not a must.

“He wasn’t afraid of taking risks and attacking, I think he’s shown that,” Wegelius said. “He wasn’t going for the GC in the sense that he wasn’t ever going to hold back for the sake of not losing an overall place, but nobody just breaks when they’re 10th overall in the Tour de France and says, ‘Ah, I’m not doing it.’”

Martin continued to prepare in the team bus. Wegelius, who rode 14 grand tours during his career, said the 26-year-old is simply worn out.

“He’s coming down with a cough,” Wegelius added. “It doesn’t take much at this level.”

The Tour de France remains a success. Martin achieved what many have not, a stage win in the world’s biggest race. That sits nicely alongside his Vuelta a España stage win from 2011.

“Cyclists are good at taking disappointments, they get used to it,” added Wegelius. “He’ll be fine.”

Martin will recover in time for the fall one-day classics. Next year he will be back fighting for a grand tour stage win, perhaps in the Giro d’Italia that begins in Belfast.

“The Tour was a success; he won a hardcore stage in the Pyrenees. He learned so much about riding at the front of this race,” Wegelius said. “I think it’ll be really precious for him in the future.”