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Chased by Pandas: My life in the mysterious world of cycling

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I think it’s fair to describe Dan as more of a classics rider, his favourite race being Liege-Bastogne-Liege (La Doyenne), notably fifth in 2012, winning the race in 2013 and second in 2017. So instead of going to Lourdes like everyone in Ireland, that Pyrenean holiday saw him and his family going to Luz-Saint-Saveur, 30 kilometres south and a shrine of a different kind, situated as it is at the base of the Tourmalet. He shared some of his views on a cyclist's life but his most significant stories and strong opinions have been held back for this book. The modern chamois memoir, though, is more an exercise in PR and image management than it is an exploration of a sport forever telling us to ignore what goes on in the shadows and just enjoy the spectacle.

This book reflects Dan’s generous and outspoken spirit, his resilience to pain, crashes, bad luck and, finally, his acceptance of destiny. At the Auberge Basque the menu was magnificent, from the reduction of asparagus from the garden served as a starter (accompanied by a mousseline of asparagus, dried skipjack tuna and marjoram) to the savoury version of a Basque cake, with ewe’s milk cheese replacing the cream. Now, having retired at the end of the 2021 season aged 35 and no longer bound by the constraints of the racing circuit, Dan feels the time is right to tell his story in the same forthright and honest manner that he rode his bike. As for dealing with pain, “I would take a paracetamol to help mask the fatigue and dull ache that three weeks of brutal racing inflicts on your body, but I then found out it was more of a placebo.In a peloton which sometimes seems populated by smooth-pedalling clones, it was always pleasing to be able to pick out Dan with his distinctive, inelegant but effective style. And, of course, he was the guy who escaped British Cycling’s clutches and chose to go his own way, rejected the offer of hopping on the elliptical treadmill and bringing home the bangles and the baubles on the track, chose to forge his own path on the road.

I’ve always aspired to race like that since (rarely succeeding thanks to adhd driven impulsiveness) but it was so clinical and enjoyable to watch him constantly positioning himself in the right place the whole way through that day. Born in 1986 in Birmingham to an Irish mother and an English father, Dan Martin is the nephew of Irish cycling legend Stephen Roche. He was the guy launching reckless attacks that didn’t amount to a whole hill of beans but looked good. Dan also discusses every aspect of the professional cyclist's life - food, discipline, money, dreams, friendship and betrayal. He’s had an interesting column over the years with Pro Cycling magazine and recent media appearances, like The Cycling Podcast, are always worth listening.There are of course more constructive ways use one’s time than to read road cyclists’ autobiographies, but I dare say – even before I’ve read the book myself – that STS would be positively surprised if he bought (or loaned) the book and wasted a couple of hours of his time by reading it! In 2013 as he took victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège Dan Martin wasn't even aware he had been chased by someone dressed as a panda. Instead each chapter explores a particular fear, whether crashing, injury or the burden of leadership and through this the arc of Dan Martin’s cycling career is covered. The most interesting aspect is Martin and his approach the sport and there are often moments in the book where you wish for more, as if you could pause the autobiography and ask for more opinion but hopefully there’s a second career ahead for this. That was 2003 (if you’re one of those people who forever bangs on and on and on about 1989 – the year, not the Taylor Swift album – I’ll bet that makes you feel really old) and Martin was still British, not yet Irish (the following year, 2004, he came the British U18 national road race champion).

A break of three or so went early, the pack rode steady waiting for the last lap or two to wind things up. In 2017, as the Tour de France approached the end of its first week, French journalist Pierre Carrey wrote an article for Libération, a panegyric in letter form hymning the praises of Dan Martin, Quick-Step’s Irish puncheur. and he is building plans to keep a close eye on cycling, especially on young riders that he would like to guide, advise and share his positive energy. Was a huge fan of Dan Martin ever since the Liege win, where he displayed an unbelievable level of cool to just tail-gun the pack and pick his moment.You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. His time at UAE explains how much the team might have had more money but it was still the Lampre team underneath: an old fashioned squadra where things get off to a bad start with a clumsy bike fitting before he even pulls on the jersey.

What Martin is telling us in Chased by Pandas and what Martin told Kimmage five years earlier, they’re substantially the same, in both he’s telling us he hasn’t really used painkillers save for the odd paracetamol every now and again. Overlaying that is a glimpse of the frankly mystical events that have foretold a victory or just the direction his career should take. On a recon ride in the Alps ahead of the Giro he explores the Sega di Ala climb and a gets a “very strong premonition”. With no disrespect to Pierre Carrey, I do wonder if Martin’s literary agent, David Luxton (Brendan Gallagher’s Corsa Rosa, Peter Cossins’ Climbers, Geraint Thomas’ According to G franchise), may have missed a trick and should have brought Hannah Grant in as Martin’s ghost. In the 2014 edition of the race approaching the finish with the possibility of a second victory but no panda chasing him fate intervened and he inexplicably crashed in the final sweeping bend of the race.Dan Martin piques your curiosity and draws you in to keep reading with a refreshing deep descriptions of being at the business end of the breakaway.

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