Martin, 28, crashed in four of the biggest events this year, namely Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a Espana and the world championships, but on Sunday, Martin won the Tour of Lombardy in stunning fashion.
The Garmin-SHARP man attacked a select group in the run-in to the finish line, at the end of over 200km of hilly racing, and held them off for one of his finest wins.
Kelly, a three-time winner of the Tour of Lombardy (1983, 1985 and 1991) said: “When you look at the year, it had been a disastrous one with bad luck, with the Liège and Giro crashes. He crashed in the Vuelta too and then again at the worlds but after all that bad luck, to get that win in the final Classic of the year, it turns the season into a great one.”
Kelly hailed Martin’s temperament in those frantic closing stages and timing his race-winning attack to perfection.
“Tactically he rode very cute, as he can do,” Kelly said. “We didn’t see him for a moment when he bridged across to that group of leaders but he was there and he followed [at the back] and when the opportunity presented itself, he didn’t hesitate and just went for it. That’s what you’ve got to be able to do; keep your powder dry and go for it at the right moment. He’s canny and cool in the final of a big one, you either have that or you don’t. When some people get in there they lose all control — Martin doesn’t,” he added.
Martin flew to Beijing yesterday for a five-day race starting on Friday and concludes his season a week later at the Japan Cup.