Dan Martin in London. ‘I was educated that it’s not superhuman to be a professional bike rider. It’s just normal.’ As he gets used to life in retirement, the Irish rider talks about the unhealthy demands of professional cycling
here were moments when I was in France and I was like: ‘Maybe they’re right, maybe I should stop eating,’” Dan Martin says as he remembers an early example of him refusing to surrender to the unhealthy demands of professional cycling. Martin, who recorded top-10 finishes at five Grand Tours and won stages at the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España , had been rejected by Dave Brailsford and British Cycling despite being a national junior champion. He turned pro in France instead where he soon discovered a sport in which cyclists are often treated as machines rather than human beings.
After Martin won the Valle d’Aosta time trial in 2006 his road captain said: “Imagine what you would be capable of if you were two kilos lighter.” Martin also recalls “scary sayings like ‘eating is cheating.’”
Martin dismissed such dangerous talk with calm determination. He had already switched nationality to Ireland, where his mother was born. Stephen Roche, his Irish uncle, had won the Tour and the Giro in 1987 but at Christmas lunches the young Martin saw the great old cyclist tucking into his turkey like “an ordinary man.” So Martin’s insistence on following his own path was rooted in logic. “Without proper food I would feel rubbish […]