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Dan Martin of Garmin-Sharp wins Il Lombardia

Irish rider attacks from back of strong group to win second Monument of his career

Garmin-Sharp’s Dan Martin has won the second Monument of his career, this afternoon winning Il Lombardia in Bergamo to add to his victory in Liege-Bastogne-Liege last year. Martin, who rides under an Irish licence, is the second British-born winner of the race after Tom Simpson in 1965, and is also the second Irish winner after Sean Kelly, a three-time victor.

The Birmingham-born rider, second in Il Lombardia in 2011, has had a frustrating season, crashing on the final corner as he sought to retain his Liege-Bastogne Liege title in April, and then another crash on the opening team time trial of the Giro d’Italia in that race put him out of what had been his season’s big target.

This afternoon he was in a very strong group of nine riders that contested the finish and which had got away with around 3km remaining as the race came over the top of the climb to the upper town in Bergamo before descending towards the finish, and sat at the back of the group before launching his attack inside the final kilometre.

Alejandro Valverde of Movistar finished second, with former world champion Rui Costa of Lampre Merida third, from a group that also contained BMC Racing’s Samuel Sanchez and his team mate Philippe Gilbert, winner of the race in 2009 and 2010.

After his victory, Martin said: “I saw a moment of hesitation. I don’t think the other riders even knew I was there, because I was in last position all the time. Once I had some speed, I knew I’d get a gap, and then it was a question of don’t crash. I’ve got a history of crashing on the last corner - in Lombardy last year, and in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It’s incredible. I have no words.”

Speaking of his 2014 season, he went on: “It has been a difficult year, After crashes in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro d’italia, I also crashed at the Vuelta, at a really bad moment. Even last week, at the Worlds, people fell in front of me, leaving me out of contention.

"I’ve mostly had good luck in my career, so it’s normal to have a season of bad luck. The team helped me: they really believed I could win today, so it was easier to stay motivated and train hard coming into these final races. I didn’t want to finish the season without a win. After the Vuelta, I really worked 100% and I wanted to win here or in Beijing, and I’ve won here, so it’s a special victory.”

He continued: “Lombardia is one of my first cycling memories. I remember watching it when I started cycling, with Paolo Bettini winning. It’s incredible to win it now. I’ve been to the Sancuary at the Ghisallo many times. I love cycling history and it’s one of the biggest races of the year, so to have my name on the palmares is incredible. Il Lombardia has always been one of my favourite races.

"I first saw I could do well in the long races in 2009, when I got 8th at Como. It’s one of the most beautiful classics, although it’s a different type of race. The peloton is tired, but you still have the best climbers in the world. The course makes it beautiful, and it’s great being close to the Worlds: you have a great peloton.”

Looking ahead, he added: “I enjoy my racing, and I enjoy one-day races more than anything. I proved at the Vuelta that I can do well in three-week tours, but winning one is still a few years away. Anyway, there’s something about one-day racing. You start full of energy, and you end empty. You have to take risks to win. I love that kind of racing. I’m only 28 and I’ve already won 2 monuments, so I’m just going to continue how I am and enjoy racing.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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