Dan Martin equalled Ireland’s best result in the men’s road race at an Olympic Games - set by Ciarán Power in Athens in 2004 - on Saturday when he finished 13th in an event he deemed the toughest of his career.
The hilly 237k course took over six hours to complete at the end of which Martin was almost three minutes behind winner Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium who edged Jakob Fuglslang (Denmark) and Rafal Majka (Poland) in a three-up sprint.
“It shows how far we have come, for a nation like Ireland to be coming in with two guys who can medal, and then be really disappointed with a 13th place finish out of 150.
“It shows the ambition we have. We rode our best and that’s all you can ask for,” said a deflated Martin.
His cousin Nicolas Roche clung doggedly to the peloton which reduced in numbers as the kilometres ticked down.
He finished 29th. Roche’s cause wasn’t helped by a mechanical issue.
“We raced pretty well, but a mechanical happened at a bad place, and on a hard circuit it’s non-forgiving,” he said in reference to his chain popping off – along with many other riders’ chains – on a dangerous cobbled section.
“That’s part of the game, obviously I was hoping for a better result. My chain wrapped on my pedal the first time up the hard climb, and I lost time,” he said of a deficit estimated at 50 seconds.
“My legs were strong but it took a lot of energy to get back to the front. I came to give a bit more; I thought I was maybe going to be able to.
“I’m disappointed after the finish. But these things happen.”
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