Israel Start-Up Nation rider Dan Martin has announced that he’s calling an end to his career at the end of the 2021 season, drawing to a close his 14-year stint in the professional peloton.
The Irishman, who has 22 pro wins to his name, said that he made the decision in order to “take on some exciting new challenges in life”, including focussing on new businesses and spending time with his family.
Martin, who turned 35 in August, has spent two years with his current team, delivering some of ISN’s biggest wins along the way. Last season he took a stage win at the Vuelta a España and this year tasted victory at the Sega di Ala summit finish of the Giro d’Italia, less than two months after being struck by COVID-19.
Those wins sit high in his palmarès alongside three more Grand Tour stage wins – at Bagneres de Bigorre and the Mûr-de-Bretagne at the 2013 and 2018 Tours de France, and at La Covatilla at the 2011 Vuelta.
Martin can also look back fondly on two Monument victories – a famous Liège-Bastogne-Liège win ahead of Joaquim Rodríguez in 2013, and a late solo attack to win Il Lombardia the following year – plus overall wins at 2010 Tour de Pologne, 2013 Volta a Catalunya, and six top 10 finishes at Grand Tours, including a career-best placing of fourth at the 2020 Vuelta.
“After 14 seasons as a professional cyclist, I have decided to call it a day. Though this huge decision has taken much thought, I feel that the time is right to move on as I want to achieve so many other things in life,” Martin said in a statement.
“In some ways, deciding to stop has been challenging and complex; it’s perhaps one of the biggest and most important decisions I have ever made; and in other ways, it’s been easy. Though I am still competitive, I’ve realised that racing has lost the fun element: the whole reason I race in the first place.
“I still love cycling and feel privileged to have called racing bikes, something I have relished since I was a kid, my ‘job.’ Through cycling, I have met so many amazing people who have enriched my life and shared some incredible experiences with them.”
Martin, who has also raced for Garmin-Sharp, QuickStep, and UAE Team Emirates during his career having turned pro with the American squad in 2008, said that he was grateful to be able to make his own decision about when to retire, adding that he’ll continue to ride a bike even if he’s stepping back from racing.
“Giving 100 per cent to what I do has always been how I operate. Though I could continue racing for a few years to come, and for many, this would seem like the obvious thing to do; I am at a point where I’m ready to take on some exciting new challenges in life.
“I feel fortunate to be deciding when I retire. I am genuinely grateful for the support of family, friends, fans, and so many cycling teammates and colleagues who have supported me throughout my career. A big thank you to my current team, Israel Start-Up Nation and all the staff and riders for making these past two seasons one of the most enjoyable and successful periods in my career.
“What next? I will always be a cyclist; I won’t hang up my wheels, just my race number. During the last few off-seasons and when I’ve had time outside of training and racing, I have found a new sense of purpose and fun in developing companies and working within businesses. This interest led to Rubix Ventures, a company I co-founded with trusted contacts, to help athletes invest in exciting growth companies.
“I’m also looking forward to being more present as a father and husband at home and doing some simple things that are not compatible with the requirements of a cycling career, like going for a run with my wife.”
Martin is next set to line up at the Tour of Britain, which starts on Sunday, September 5 and runs for eight days. The final races of his career have yet to be confirmed, though a ninth appearance for the Republic of Ireland at the Road World Championships and a 13th appearance at Il Lombardia could yet be on the cards.
“With the finish line in view, I’ve dug into training over the last few weeks and am looking forward to having an impact in my final few races and hopefully ending this period of my life in style,” he concluded.
Israel Start-Up Nation team owner Sylvan Adams said that Martin’s retirement would be “a bittersweet moment”, adding that the team will face a challenge to carry forward the battling style of racing that Martin embodied.
“Dan has been one of the great riders in our sport for many years, animating races, earning a palmarès of victories in Classics and Grand Tours. Dan brought a style and standard of racing to ISN that we will try to emulate, made all the more difficult without him in next year’s lineup.
“I am truly sorry that Dan won’t be racing with us next year, but understand and respect his decision. Dan will always be a member of the ISN family. We wish him luck in his future endeavours.”
Martin won’t be the only rider at ISN to retire at the end of the season, as German sprinter André Greipel has also opted to retire, having announced his decision during the Tour de France.