Lenny Martinez is the first Frenchman to finish on the final podium of the Espoirs Tour of Italy since the return of the event to the calendar in 2017 (see ranking). L’Espoir 1 of the Continental Groupama-FDJ looks back on its Giro at the microphone of DirectVelo.
DirectVelo: What is the predominant feeling?
Lenny Martinez: I’m satisfied. I would have signed anyway to get on the podium of a prestigious race. Honestly, I think I was as strong as Leo Hayter and Lennert Van Eetvelt when the road was going up. I’m happy but I say to myself if I had waited to attack in the Mortirolo, Leo (Hayter) might not have taken us so long. If I had been in the front group yesterday (Friday), I might have taken pink but that’s how it is, that’s racing.
On the third day, you escape 60 kilometers from the finish in the Mortirolo before collapsing in the valley…
I could have gone to the end and taken the pink jersey with a lot of lead, but the race was a bit long for me. It was six o’clock (five hours of racing and almost an hour of fictitious, editor’s note), I had never done that. The legs stalled suddenly after the descent. I was not advancing at all. I was good in the Mortirolo, I took the opportunity to attack to do the descent alone. The plan was to attack there if we had the legs. If I hadn’t stalled, maybe it would have. On the last climb, it was life-and-death. I had nothing left. I looked at the power, I was like ” It is not possible “. It’s a weird feeling. I couldn’t go faster. After six hours, it was over. It was hard mentally because we weren’t going very fast, we were all on our toes. When Leo Hayter passed me, he looked me straight in the eye but it was impossible to follow him.
“I HAD TO TRY”
You lose 5’49” on Leo Hayter that day. So, during the 5th stage, you try it collectively, without success…
As long as we were behind, we had to try to make up for it. When I was in the breakaway, I was better than in the peloton, so we didn’t necessarily waste a lot of energy. I just took the points from the first pass and did the descent. I turned around and there was the whole team, I took the wheels of the group. Eventually the peloton came back. We are still Hopes so we can still afford stuff like that. In WorldTour, that will no longer be possible. If there had been Lotto with us, it would have gone to the end I think. But we had to try.
During the 6th stage leading to La Fauniera (18.6 km at 8.5%), it was the rivals of Lotto-Soudal DT who sent three guys ahead, Lennert Van Eetvelt, Vincent Van Hemelen and Ramses Debruyne…
We didn’t think they were going to do it at all. The team rolled and when the gap stabilized, I came out in the pass. I climbed as fast as Lennert but I couldn’t take 1’30 from him”, it’s not just anyone.
“IF I CAN GET TO THE PROS, I WILL DO IT”
This Saturday, you were above all defending your 3rd place overall. How did you manage these 120 kilometers?
It was a bit stressful. I was afraid of falls. There was no three kilometer rule. So, you had to be careful because it could have been paid for in cash. I let the teammates rub to bring Romain Grégoire and Samuel Watson to the foot of the final bump at Pinerolo, they are more used to this exercise than me.
After your 8th place at the Mercan’Tour Classic, you confirm your good period.
Doing a Top 10 with WorldTour riders was great. It’s positive to make a podium here. I had not yet had any results in the Espoirs category. We were three riders designated for the general, it’s good but it’s also hard to manage. But afterwards in the passes, it is done by pedal. I know people expect a lot from me. It doesn’t bother me, on the contrary, it’s always nice. Mentally, I could see myself next year with the pros but we still have to talk about it with the team. If I can go up, I will.