On Sunday, the 29-year-old Irishman will line up for “La Doyenne” with what can be described as a small piece of art.
In 2013, just as Daniel Martin was preparing to launch his final attack in the run-in to Ans and leave Joaquim Rodriguez behind, soloing to the win in Liège–Bastogne–Liège, a somehow awkward character came into the spotlight, running behind the two: a fan dressed in a panda suit, who encouraged the riders on the final uncategorized climb. Since then, the panda was forever linked to the Irishman, a strong and immortal connection being forged between the two of them.
Now, right before a new edition of Liège–Bastogne–Liège, Specialized designed a special bike for Daniel Martin, the "Emerald Panda", a Limited Edition Tarmac color. As a tribute to Ireland, often known as the Emerald Isle, the bike's base color of white has a special green pearl topcoat which, depending on the light, adds an emerald highlight to the frame's shape. In addition to this, there are four-leaf clovers, which are considered lucky, with small bands of Ireland's flag colors to denote Dan's previous national championship wins. Finally, the Panda adorns the top tube to celebrate his love for the peaceful furry giant.
"I really like the design of the bike. It's cool, the paint job is subtle but perfect. I was a bit surprised when I learned Specialized was making this bike, but now I am happy because it just brings me good memories. I am sure that during the entire race on Sunday I'll be thinking of when I won. This time it'll be me chasing the Panda", said Dan Martin of his new bike.
Photo credit: ©BrakeThrough Media