Daniel Martinez: “I have big expectations for the Tour de l’Avenir”
In the past couple of years, it became a habit to have a young Colombian rider making a name for himself in a tough race, despite lacking experience at pro level and riding against more powerful opponents. In 2015, the one coming into the spotlight was Daniel Martinez, the 19-year-old cyclist of Team Colombia-Coldeportes, who got his season started in February, at the Gran Premio Costa degli Etruschi, and needed only four months to draw attention upon him, at the Route du Sud, where he won the mountains classification.
Less than two months after completing the French event, he went to the Tour of Utah, where he turned into the revelation of the race, impressing everyone not only with his skills, but also thanks to the maturity displayed, well beyond his young age. In Utah – arguably the toughest cycling race in the US – he went head-to-head with the overall contenders on the Snowbird and Park City stages and finished 8th in the general standings, as well as taking home the best young rider jersey.
At the end of this week, Daniel Martinez will line-up for the 52nd edition of the Tour de l’Avenir, a race with which Colombian began an intense love affair since 1980, when Alfonso Florez nabbed a memorable victory against more well-known European riders. But before going to France, he took on the invitation of Cafe Roubaix and opened up about his first years in cycling and the results he got so far as a pro.
– Daniel, how did you began cycling?
It was through my brother, who liked cycling and started riding. Inspired by him, I began cycling at age 14, riding for the Club Ciclo Soacha. I remember everything from that time, from my first races, which were circuits and one-day races within the region, to watching the Grand Tours and wishing to get there in the future.
– How important was for you to win the Vuelta del Futuro in 2012?
It meant a lot: it was one of the most important races for my category, and I really wanted to win it. Moreover, I knew that a success would have opened many doors for me.
– Then, one year later, you took the gold medal in the Junior time trial race at the Panamerican Championships. Were you surprised by that victory?
No, I can’t say it came as a surprise, because I had worked a lot for that goal, and I had long been focused to go and win it.
– How did you end up in Europe?
The turning point was the World Championship in Florence, where I got in the breakaway: it actually opened the doors to Europe for me, as the next year the UCI invited me to the World Center.
– In 2014, you got to race in France, Switzerland and Spain, including the World Championships in Ponferrada. How would you rate this experience?
All these were amazing experiences, because there I had the opportunity to learn a huge lot on racing in Europe, and certain habitudes and routines that are part of it, and need to be apprehended. I also got to see that the races from Europe are longer and more organized, while the ones in South America are more “instinctual”.
– And all these races helped you turn pro.
I have to say that this was a very important step in my career. It was the goal that pushed me to start riding a bike in the first place.
– Recently, you finished 8th in the Tour of Utah. How was it?
It was by far the best race I have had as a profesional so far. I must admit that I was a little bit surprised to get such an important result. The feelings were good, but there were very strong opponents there.
– What improvements have you made this season?
The progress has been pretty significant. At the beginning, it was very hard to me to have good feelings deep into races, that is when the decisive moves happen. Now things are going pretty much better, and I feel more confidence and experience.
– Next up is the Tour de l’Avenir. What are your goals?
I am leaving for the race with many expectations, just like my other teammates, to go and put on a strong performance, trying to bring the overall title to Colombia once again.