Quick-Step Floors' rider delivered Ireland its best result in three decades at the Grande Boucle, after a race in which our team scored five stage wins.
Paris sizzled Sunday evening, as the roaring Tour de France peloton made its way through the city's outskirts and onto the Champs-Élysées, where the race covered eight laps that took the riders through Place de la Concorde, along the Seine river and around the Arc de Triomphe, before the traditional finish on the most famous boulevard in the world.
Stage 21, which rolled out from Montgeron – the location of the first ever start of a Tour de France stage, 114 years ago – marked the end of Dan Martin's most successful Grand Tour campaign, one which saw the 30-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider finish in sixth place, after three hard weeks of fighting and attacking, from the Vosges and the Jura to the Pyrenees and Alps, three weeks during which he showcased his remarkable never-say-die attitude, resilience, sheer guts and panache.
It's the best placing in the general classification of the Tour de France by an Irish rider since 1987, when the race also started from Germany, and Stephen Roche, none other than Dan's uncle, won the yellow jersey.
This solid and well-deserved result serves as further confirmation of Martin's extraordinary consistency, as he finished for the fifth time this season a stage race in the top-6 overall, after Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, Volta a Catalunya and Critérium du Dauphiné, in addition to a pair of runner-up spots at Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"I am very happy, especially as I wasn't expecting to finish so high in the GC after that stage 9 crash. It was a hard but at the same time fun race and at the end of it all I am proud of what I've achieved here. Our team has tasted success on numerous occasions throughout these three weeks and I'm leaving France with many beautiful memories, but also with a huge desire to return next year and fight again to finish even higher in the overall standings", said a beaming Dan Martin, who enlivened the race in the mountains every time he had the opportunity, and who now, as a result of his aggressive approach, will climb to third in the World Tour individual classification.
The fantastic work laid down by the team which comprised also Jack Bauer, Gianluca Brambilla, Philippe Gilbert, Fabio Sabatini, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin and Julien Vermote helped another Quick-Step Floors rider – Marcel Kittel – earn a special place in the history books, as the 29-year-old German became only the third man to win five sprints at a single Tour de France edition. Liège, Troyes, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Bergerac and Pau all bear the mark of Marcel, whose out of this world speed and sprinting skills helped him take his Tour de France stage tally to 14, an all-time record for a German rider.
Following the most successful Tour de France outing in the team's history, Quick-Step Floors continue to hold the top spot in the World Tour classification, which the squad managed by Patrick Lefevere will lead for the 18th consecutive week. So far this season, 24 of the team's riders have scored in the World Tour, helping Quick-Step Floors – who has racked up a staggering 40 victories since January – open a 2000-point advantage over the second-placed outfit in the standings.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele