Born in Birmingham and of British-Irish descent, Dan Martin is a pro cyclist for team Cannondale-Garmin – and is currently racing in the Tour de France! Dan’s had countless wins (including one-day classics and grand tour stages), and turned professional back in 2008.
We caught up with him before he headed to the start of this year’s Tour de France to ask him your questions. Read on to see what he loves most about being a professional cyclist – and learn about his pre-race training and nutrition plans!
“What’s the single best thing about being a professional cyclist?“
Just being able to ride my bike every day. Going away to races with the team is always good fun too!
“Which teams have the best (other than Garmin) and worst-looking kits in the peloton?”
Lampre or Astana for the worst kits. Astana with their blue leg warmers is a bit nasty! Ag2r’s is pretty bad one too. Sky’s is probably the classiest I guess and Lotto is also pretty cool!
“What are your goals for le Tour?”
I would really love to win another stage and after that see how GC goes. With our team we should have someone in the top 10, top 5. I don’t really set ambitions for races.
“Who’s the best teammate you’ve roomed with?”
I don’t know that’s a hard one! It obviously changes all the time! Nathan Haas is my current roommate who is a really good friend. It’s nice to get on so well with someone when you spend so much time with them during races!
“You’ve raced all over the world, but where is your favourite country or place to ride your bike?”
I can’t choose just one! Everywhere has its merits! Girona’s coast ride is great and obviously you have the Pyrenees close by. It’s so hard to choose! Ireland is also great. The Mountains above Dublin are cool. It’s so peaceful up there.
“What’s the hardest stage or one day race you’ve ever raced?”
There are a few which come to mind.
The dirt stage of the 2010 Giro when it rained and it was a horrific day! Also a stage of Catalunya in 2012, when I crashed at the start. We started when we really shouldn’t have done in the snow, and riders had to be pulled off their bike with hypothermia! 60 riders didn’t finish – I’ve never been that cold! Climatic conditions affected both of them, which made it super tough.
“Who is the rider you most admire in the current or past peloton and why do you admire them?”
I don’t really have the whole admiration thing for other riders. As a kid a never really had any heroes really.
“Which do you prefer: Tamworth or Girona?”
Ha! Obviously Girona is great for training! But I’ve moved to Andorra now which is also good for riding. Tamworth does have a Halfords though!
“How many race days do you have each year, and how does it differ from when you were a neo-pro?”
More when I was a neo-pro actually! Every year is different ranging from 65-80. Now I stick to mainly World Tour races but I’ve been pretty consistent throughout my whole career from Neo-Pro through to now.
“Will the removal of Galibier [a mountain stage which is no longer part of the TdF due to a landslide] at this year’s Tour make a difference?”
I’m not sure what the alternative route is. At that stage of the race a climb is a climb. The altitude might have made a difference but at that stage of the race you either have the legs or you don’t!
“What are your thoughts on UCI with Brian Cookson at the helm, and what changes have been noticed in by the peloton?”
I’ve not really noticed much of a difference in the peloton. I’ve got a lot of respect for Brian as I’ve known him for years through British Cycling. For riders I guess it’s up to us to focus on the racing.
Milestones & Achievements
“What was your first race bike?”
My first was a no name steel bike from my granddad which I inherited when I was 13 or 14 – pretty simple stuff really as I didn’t start riding till quite late!
“What is the fastest your two wheels have ever carried you?”
Tour of Austria last year I hit 119kph (74mph)! The roads are really fast over there and it was a really steep climb!
“You’ve won stages in Grand Tours, LBL and Tour of Lombardy. Is there one race you would love to add to your palmares [record of wins and achievements]?”
I think at the moment it would be Fleche Wallone as I’ve come so close many times there. It would be pretty special to win there one year.
Training & Nutrition
“What’s your favourite dinner?”
Sushi if I can get my hands on it! It’s obviously very difficult to find when we are away at races. At the Tour de France we have our own chef which is great. Definitely increases the excitement when we come down for dinner. My favourite when we are at races is Avocado and Salmon Tartar or spicy pasta. Tuna steak is also really nice at races or at home too.
“On a typical day in a Grand Tour, what would you have for breakfast? And what’s your nutrition like during the stage?”
For breakfast – porridge with some berries and banana, nuts and coconut oil and omelette or a couple of boiled eggs. Our chef prepares a fruit smoothie for breakfast too with probiotics.
During the stage I generally stick to rice cakes. This year we have Bonk Breaker bars which are great! I try to do two bottles per hour, gels 1 per hour and the final hour of the race 2 gels. Other than – it’s all about hydration!
“Fish & chips or chips and gravy?”
Fish and chips!
“What is your training and nutrition plan pre-race?”
Depends on the race – if it is a stage race I’ll do 2-3 hours 2 days before and it very similar for a similar for a one day race too! The day before I’ll do an hour with some sprints in between. If it’s a one day race I’ll do an hour or less on the indoor trainer at a high intensity. I also like to have pasta the night before a race.
“As an amateur cyclist of only one year, I really enjoy hill climbs, but I’m not very good! What single piece of advice could you give me to make me a better climber? I only own an entry level road bike.”
The important thing is to climb hills. Other than that its training I guess. Keeping a higher cadence is also important! Climbing is always going to hurt unfortunately!
“How can I become a pro cyclist?”
It is possible to get to the professional ranks in England/Britain right now with the rise of more teams. However, you really need to go the continent in my opinion as that’s where all the big races are.
There have been plenty of thrills and spills already in the Tour so far, but Dan is still in the race! We wish him the best of luck over the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more Q&As from cycling experts and other interesting folk in the future!