DAN MARTIN ISRAEL START-UP NATION
It had been a few years since I rode the Tour of Britain, and even longer since I got a result in the GC, a statistic the sign-on podium announcer seemed to enjoy reminding me of each morning: I finished fourth in 2008, my neo-pro year. The race’s reputation has grown over the years and the list of recent winners is beginning to resemble a who’s who of cycling. There may have been only seven WorldTour teams present in 2021 but that is down to a congested calendar.
What is underestimated is just how difficult the race is, especially this year. Britain may not have high mountain passes but the course is relentless. In the eight days we covered more kilometres than Paris-Nice or the Dauphiné and essentially the same metres of altitude gain. Add the notoriously heavy UK road surfaces and the highly technical routes and it was an intense week, which ideally sets riders up for the rest of the season.
I have to say congratulations to the organisers, Sweetspot, as well. It’s not an easy task navigating Britain’s streets but the security of the course was excellent. We were of course treated to fine weather for the majority of the race; this article may have had a different tone if I had just returned from a sodden week of miserable conditions. And the race came down to the final sprint in Aberdeen. As a climber it would have been nice to have more of the difficulties located within range of the finish to provoke and encourage more attacks but the strongest teams had the leading riders, meaning there was a sort of alliance formed. But it was a race that I will remember for a long time, with a great group of guys.
With British director Cherie Pridham in charge we decided to give the staff and on some days the riders a culinary tour of the UK. Stage 1 we got to the bus with
Cornish pasties to eat and managed to source some haggis and Irn Bru in Scotland, although the riders did skip the fish and chip lunch prior to the TTT. It all adds to the fun in what was a serious event held under an end-of-term atmosphere and indeed for me personally an end-of-career feeling as on the eve of the race I announced my retirement from the professional peloton. I’ll go into more detail another time but I just felt like this is the right time to call it a day. Riding my final Tour of Britain with the news public was really quite special, humbling in fact. As a pro cyclist you mostly exist in a bubble, conscious but not really aware of the effect that you have on people watching at home. I feel incredibly fortunate to have inspired so many and can only reiterate my gratitude for the support not just during this Tour of Britain but my whole career. I’m not quite finished yet though.